GU men’s basketball falls to Division I Siena in exhibition play

The Gannon University men’s basketball team traveled to Loudonville, N.Y., Saturday for exhibition action against Division 1 opponent Siena University, ultimately falling 74-63.

This was Gannon’s first taste of Division I competition since 2008, when coach John Reilly’s team played against Dayton University, competing well against a formidable squad but also falling short in that contest, 67-59.

Both teams shot the ball well Saturday in New York — Gannon at 49 percent and Siena at 54 percent — but the deciding statistic was Siena’s 40-16 edge in points off turnovers against the Knights.

Co-captain and senior point guard Adam Blazek led the way for the Knights with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, three assists, two steals and multiple broken teeth.

The play happened late in the second half, with Blazek receiving an elbow to the mouth on a drive from a Siena opponent. Never one to sit out long, Blazek stopped the bleeding and returned for the final three minutes.

Senior forward Raphell-Thomas Edwards paced the frontcourt, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting as well. Other key contributors included junior forward Jean-Yves Toupane, a transfer from Division 1 Saint Bonaventure, with nine points and seven rebounds, and returning senior guard Girbran Smith with seven points.

Blazek said the goal for the team heading into Siena was to go in with a high level of focus and execute the little things.

“This exhibition allowed some of the newer guys a glimpse into the intensity and focus needed to compete at a high level like we want to do,” Blazek said.

A key this season for the Knights will be meshing some of the new additions to the team such as Toupane and junior guard Tony Boykins with the returning core. Co-captain and senior forward A’Darius Porter has confidence they are well on their way.

“(The new guys) will be a huge part of our team giving us energy and helping us take huge steps in becoming a better team,” Porter said.

Coach John Reilly said he thinks this experience will help the team going forward in what is one of the most anticipated seasons in recent memory for the Knights.

“Siena is a really good team, and we knew basketball is very important up there,” he said. “They returned 99 percent of their team and are well-coached and ran a variety of defenses, so it was a win-win for us.

“We just wanted to compete and start to get used to playing on the road. It was a great environment to play in.”

With a No. 1 PSAC West preseason ranking on their backs and trip to Siena behind them, the Knights head in to nonconference action Friday as they travel to West Virginia to compete in the WACO Center Classic in Glenville. Gannon will take on host Glenville State at 6 p.m. Friday before meeting the University of Charleston at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The Knights will make their home debut at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, against Slippery Rock in the PSAC opener for both teams.

MAX SENG

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