Gannon falls twice in Miller Classic

The Gannon University men’s basketball team hosted the 31st annual Gary Miller Classic Friday and Saturday at the Hammermill Center, but the weekend would be anything but classic for the Knights.

On Friday, Gannon would see its 12-game home win streak snapped in a 47-45 loss to Le Moyne. Saturday wouldn’t be any better for the Knights as a second-half rally would fall short in a 73-66 loss to Alderson Broaddus.

In the loss to Le Moyne, the Knights shot just 6-for-29 from behind the arc and were outrebounded in the low-scoring defensive battle.

Gannon would open the contest with a 5-0 lead, but would exchange the lead three times throughout the first half with the Dolphins. Gannon held a 20-19 edge with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in the half, before Le Moyne would hit consecutive field goals to enter the break with a 24-21 lead.

Gannon trailed 43-39 late in the second half before Girbran Smith propelled the Knights to a 45-43 advantage on back-to-back 3-pointers with 47 seconds remaining.

Le Moyne would counter with a 3-pointer by Conner Mahoney with 31 seconds left to take a 46-45 lead. The Knights would miss a 3-point attempt on their next possession before Le Moyne would add to its lead on a free throw with 3 ticks remaining.

The Dolphins missed the second free throw that would lead to a half-court shot by Gannon’s Adam Blazek that wouldn’t fall as time expired.

The contest would finish with eight ties and seven lead changes between the two squads.

“Basketball is a game of runs — it happens,” Smith said following the Le Moyne loss. “It’s better to face the hard times now and be better later in the season.”

In the loss to Alderson Broaddus, Gannon would cut a 19-point second-half deficit to six but never got closer.

A free throw by Rich Austin with 6:56 left in the opening half would give Gannon its largest lead of the night, 24-16. Following the foul shot, the Battlers would go on a 10-1 run to grab their first lead of the night, 26-25, and never lose it the rest of the evening.

Gannon would be held without a field goal for 5:31 as the Battlers took the upper hand into the locker room at half 36-30.

Alderson Broaddus came out of the intermission without missing a beat.

The Battlers would jump out to a commanding 50-32 lead with 14:55 left in game. A Malcom Tatum 3-pointer with 11:24 remaining would give the visitors their largest lead of the night at 58-39.

The Knights would rally with 10 straight points in the final minutes to cut the Battlers’ lead to nine. A 3-pointer by Matthew Dogan pulled the Knights within six with 21 seconds remaining, but that would be as close as they would get.

The consecutive losses dropped the Knights to 2-4 on the year.

The Gary Miller Classic followed a predetermined classic schedule, moving away from the consolation/championship format that was used in previous years.

Slippery Rock topped Alderson Broaddus 80-70 in the opening game Friday night, before The Rock fell to Le Moyne 60-55 in the first game on Saturday.

The Knights return to PSAC action Wednesday when they take on Clarion. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Hammermill Center. Gannon also will be in action at home Saturday in a 7:30 p.m. matchup with Indiana (Pa.).

DOMINIC SANSONE

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