Men bounce back with pair of wins

The Gannon University men’s basketball team bounced back last week with back-to-back wins after dropping consecutive home games in the Gary Miller Classic.

The Knights improved to 4-0 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference after a 61-56 overtime upset of No. 5 Indiana University (Pa.) Saturday night and a 68-54 win over Clarion University on Wednesday.

On Saturday, Gannon used late-game heroics to grid out the win over the nationally ranked Crimson Hawks.

With the game tied at 49-49, Gannon’s Girbran Smith hit a critical jumper against heavy defensive pressure to put the Knights up two with 23 second remaining.

The Crimson Hawks (7-2, 1-2 PSAC) answered on their next possession with a game-tying layup with two seconds left to force overtime.

The 881 fans in attendance at the Hammermill Center witnessed six lead changes and two ties in the overtime.

The Knights (4-4, 4-0 PSAC) would get the lead for good on a Raphell Thomas-Edwards layup to move Gannon in front 57-56 with 1:13 left in the extra session.

A 3-point attempt for the Crimson Hawks that was off the mark led to another score for the Knights. Then on the next possession, Devante Chance missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer for IUP, before Gannon sealed the deal with two free throws from Smith

Gannon outrebounded IUP 41-20 in a contest that featured 20 lead changes and 10 ties.

Thomas-Edwards recorded his third double-double of the season with a career-high 22 points and 12 rebounds.

Shawn Dyer led the Crimson Hawks with 16 points, including four 3-pointers.

On Wednesday, Gannon got 24 points from its reserves to help top the Golden Eagles of Clarion.

“Our bench did an excellent job,” A’Darius Porter said. “Our bench players ran with the train and help elevate our intensity.”

A back-and-forth first half featured runs from both squads.

The Knights held a comfortable 17-6 lead with 12:48 reaming, before Clarion answered with six straight points to move within five.

Gannon countered with a 6-1 run to move the lead back to double-digits.

However, Clarion rattled off eight unanswered points to cut the Gannon lead to 23-21 after a Cameron Grumley 3-pointer with 4:01 remaining the opening half.

The trend continued when Gannon punched back with a 6-0 run to move the Knights up eight.

An Adam Blazek 3-pointer with five seconds remaining ended the half giving the Knights a 32-24 advantage heading into the locker room.

Coach John Reilly’s club needed less than two minutes to extend the lead to double figures and never look back. Gannon held a double-digit lead for nearly the entire second half, including a 15-point lead five different times.

“I thought we played very poorly in the [Gary Miller Classic] against some good teams, and did a great job to bounce back,” Reilly said.

Gannon will return to action against Shepherd University in a non-conference battle set for 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hammermill Center. The Rams bring a 5-2 record into the game.

DOMINIC SANSONE

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