Knights extend streak to eight straight wins

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The Gannon University women’s basketball team improved its winning streak to eight games by defeating Slippery Rock, 72-50, Wednesday and Mercyhurst, 59-49, Saturday in the eighth annual Pink Zone game.

Nettie Blake led the way in both games, overpowering Mercyhurst with 19 points and 23 rebounds in only 30 minutes of play after posting 19 points and 16 rebounds in the win over Slippery Rock.

Blake, named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division player of the week along with the ECAC Division II player of the week, fell one rebound short of tying the school record for rebounds by a single player against Mercyhurst. Blake leads the PSAC in rebounding with 11.9 per game.

Mollie Sebald also excelled against Mercyhurst by posting a season-high 18 points, and Brittany Batts recorded a 12-point, two-rebound, two-assist stat line.

Blake nearly outrebounded the Lakers herself as Gannon held the advantage on the boards, 47-28. Gannon remains unblemished at home this year, standing at 9-0.

Saturday’s matchup with Mercyhurst was dedicated as this year’s Pink Zone game, and all proceeds were donated to local agencies Linked by Pink and Making Strides, which are committed to the fight against breast cancer.

Batts said Saturday’s game had special meaning for all of the Knights players.

“We play for each other every day, but it was really exciting to play for those fighting breast cancer Saturday,” Batts said.

“It felt good to give back to this community, since they give so much to us by attending games, following us when we go on the road and cheering us on.”

The Knights were hoping to eclipse the $100,000 mark for funds raised in their Pink Zone games. The program had raised $97,524 in support of breast cancer research since 2007 going into Saturday’s game.

The win over Mercyhurst followed a 22-point victory over Slippery Rock Wednesday, a win that clinched the Knights’ berth in the PSAC conference tournament. In addition to Blake’s 19 points and 16 rebounds, Candice Hendricks scored a season-high 15 points.

Gannon fed off its defense by scoring 23 points off 22 Slippery Rock turnovers, and held second-leading PSAC scorer D’Asia Chambers to 13 points. The Knight held the Rock to 33 percent shooting — 20 percent in the first half — to race to a 40-15 halftime lead.

Gannon also controlled the paint, holding Slippery Rock to 12 points in the paint and more than doubled the opposition in free-throw attempts, converting 17-of-22.

The Knights head from one rivalry to another, as they travel to Edinboro Wednesday to face the Fighting Scots for the second time this year.

Gannon notched the third of its eight straight wins on Jan. 10 at the Hammermill Center, defeating Edinboro after losing four times to the Fighting Scots a year ago.

Amanda Berchtold said that despite the win last month, the Knights won’t underestimate a Scots team looking to even the score.

“They are always a great team and it’s always a battle especially since it’s at their place on Wednesday,” she said. “We need to be focused and ready to go.”

Gannon stands at 15-4 overall and is tied for second in the PSAC West with California University of Pennsylvania at 14-2, one-half game behind West-leading Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The Knights will get a shot at the No. 5 Crimson Hawks Saturday in a 5 p.m. matchup at the Hammermill Center.

MAX SENG

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