Gannon seizes first place


The Gannon University men’s basketball team proved to its rival Saturday why it has the No. 1 scoring defense in Division II.

The Knights used stifling defense in a 55-46 win over Mercyhurst in front of 2,504 fans at the Hammermill Center.

The Knights held every Laker player out of double-figures in scoring and took sole control of first place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division.

Rattling the Mercyhurst offense was a big part of Saturday’s game plan for the Knights (14-7, 13-3 PSAC).

“They are a rhythm team and we wanted to disrupt them,” senior Girbran Smith said. “We wanted to make everything contested.”

Contested shots allowed Gannon to hold Mercyhurst without a field goal for the first seven minutes and 35 seconds, but the Knights were unable to take advantage and grab a big lead. Trailing 7-1, Sean Beins tossed in the first field goal for the Lakers with 12:25 left in the first half to cut the Gannon lead to four.

Following a defensive stop, Gerrae Williams knocked down two free-throws to put the Lakers within two.

That would be as close as the Lakers (15-6, 12-4) would get the rest of the way.

Adam Blazek and Rich Austin went on a 13-1 run of their own to propel the Knights to a 20-6 lead with 7:21 remaining in the opening half.  Austin netted six, while Blazek tossed in the rest, including a 3-pointer.

The Lakers answered with a 13-3 run that would cut the deficit to four with 2:12 to play in the half.

The Knights entered the intermission with a 27-21 advantage. Following a Laker 3-pointer to open the second half, Gannon generated an 11-2 run to regain a double-digit lead.

“I’m happy for our guys,” coach John Reilly said. “The first half was tough; we had a lot of guys in foul trouble. Our young guys really did a nice job and they gave us a chance to be successful.”

Blazek led the way for the Knights with 19 points, while Smith added 14. James Ewing led the Lakers with eight points and six rebounds. Saturday wasn’t the only big win of the week for Gannon, as the Knights edged Slippery Rock 74-71  Wednesday to hand The Rock their first home loss of the season. Kelvin Goodwin knocked down a jumper with 49 seconds remaining to cut the Gannon lead to four, 70-66. The rest of the game turned into a free-throw contest.

Gannon hit 3-of-8, while The Rock made 3-of-5 down the stretch, including an Antonio Butler field goal that allowed Slippery Rock to get within three, with six ticks left on the clock.

A contested 3-point attempt by Goodwin was off the mark as time expired. The Knights begin an important three-game road trip Wednesday when they face rival Edinboro.

“It’s a difficult schedule; we haven’t had an easy game,” Reilly said. “Edinboro is very good. It’s going to be a tough, hard-fought game.”

Blazek said moving from one rival to another won’t be a difficult task. “It’s sort of easy, every game is important,” Blazek said. “We can’t dwell on it, we just move onto the next one.”

Gannon will look to complete its second straight regular-season sweep of the Fighting Scots after a 66-48 win Jan. 10 at the Hammermill Center.


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