Indiana (Pa.) thought it had Gannon right where it wanted it in Saturday night’s Atlantic Region semifinal game.
It turned out Gannon was right where it needed to be in the 64-46 win.
For the second straight night, Gannon fell behind early, before systematically overtaking the game with swarming defense that methodically led to a snowballing lead.
The Knights could’ve fooled the 1,003 fans in attendance—many of whom were in the same seats —into thinking the game was a replay of Friday’s 66-40 win over Fairmont State.
All 12 Knights saw playing time, 10 scored and only Jen Papich and Nettie Blake scored double-figures.
“It’s definitely a team effort,” coach Cleve Wright said. “Our players really care for each other, really care about each other and it’s really nice to see every player get involved.”
No. 7 Gannon (30-4), seeded No. 1 in the Atlantic Region, will play California (Pa.) in the Regional final Monday night for the right to reach the Elite Eight.
On Saturday, Gannon fell behind 13-9 when former Mercyhurst Prep and Mercyhurst University player Lindsay Stamp hit a 3-pointer a little more than five minutes in. But points were at a premium from there on out for the Indiana (23-9).
The Crimson Hawks turned it over nine times while Gannon went on a 14-2 run that lasted nearly nine minutes.
In all, Indiana committed 26 turnovers, many of which were unforced, IUP coach Jeff Dow said.
“In a lot of respects I felt that we gave them some easy points with being a little bit sloppy on offense,” he said.
Like Friday, Gannon immediately parlayed a halftime lead into an even larger out of the locker room by scoring the first seven points of the second half.
Gannon continued to stymie Indiana’s offense, holding the Hawks without a field goal for the first 7 ½ minutes of the second half.
Gannon frustrated Indiana by contesting shots and clogging passing lanes.
“This is our third time playing IUP, so to say that we can anticipate what they’re going to do isn’t giving them any credit,” said Papich, who led Gannon with 12 points and eight rebounds. “We do a good job of just being in position and not lunging and not getting ourselves out of position.”
Indiana shot just 27 percent from the field.
Senior Sarah Pastorek led the Hawks with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Gannon will play Cal for the fourth time this season 7 p.m. Monday. The Knights split their regular-season series with the Vulcans before beating them 77-50 in the PSAC tournament.
Cal, a seven seed, held off Glenville State 81-79 Saturday. Glenville State managed to tie the game in the final minute before Stephanie Michael scored the game-winning layup with four seconds left.
Wright said Monday’s game will tell him just how good his team is playing.
“I’ll tell you if we’re hitting our stride,” he said. “When we come out Monday night.”