Knights fall to second in PSAC


The Gannon University men’s basketball team entered Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Kovalchick Complex Saturday with sole possession of first place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division.

The No. 18 Crimson Hawks walked out with it.

IUP forced 25 Gannon turnovers and shot 52 percent in the second half on the way to a 64-54 win in front of 2,416 fans.

The Hawks (20-3, 14-3 PSAC) entered the intermission on a 7-0 run, while holding the Knights scoreless the final 5 minutes, 55 seconds of the half to take a 25-23 lead.

IUP built on that run – outscoring Gannon 19-13 in the first 7:48 of the second half – and extended its lead to 12.

Gannon (15-8, 14-4) answered with an 8-0 spurt that knotted the game at 44-44. Senior A’Darius Porter started the rally with a jumper before junior Jean Yves Toupane drained back-to-back 3-pointers with 8:59 left to play.

The Hawks countered with seven unanswered points to take 51-44 lead and never lost it.

Toupane led the Knights with a season-high 16 points, while Girbran Smith tossed in 12.

IUP’s Devante Chance led all scorers with 18.

Wednesday would be the bright spot of the week, as the Knights downed rival Edinboro University 66-61 on the road.

Smith hit a go-ahead field goal with 1:25 remaining to start a 6-0 run to end the contest.

Gannon opened the game with a 16-4 lead with just 5:42 off the clock.

The Fighting Scots inched their way back, cutting a 12-point Gannon lead to five.

Gannon held a 35-27 advantage with under two minutes to play in the opening half, but the Knights walked into the locker room up one after a 7-0 run by the Scots to end the half.

Much like the first half, Gannon built another double-digit lead in the second half only to see it dwindle away.

A 10-point Gannon lead with 13:43 would give way to another Edinboro rally.

Trailing 60-51, the Scots rattled off 10 straight points to take the lead with 2:14 left.

Gannon was held without a field goal for more than eight minutes as Edinboro clawed its way back.

A clutch jumper by Smith that found nothing but net, gave the Knights the lead for good with 1:25 remaining.

Smith averages 33.1 minutes per game, but only played 23 due to foul trouble Saturday.

“He wasn’t able to play a lot, but he came in and hit a big shot for us,” coach John Reilly said.

Senior guard Adam Blazek paced the Knights with 20 points, including four free throws in the closing seconds to seal the victory.

“We made enough plays down the stretch and we got a tough road win,” Blazek said.

Despite losing to IUP, the win over Edinboro allowed Gannon to clinch its third consecutive PSAC Tournament bid.

The loss to the Crimson Hawks dropped the Knights out of first place and into second, one half-game behind IUP. Mercyhurst sits close behind in third place at one game back.

Gannon wraps up a three-game road trip Wednesday when the Knights take on Clarion.

Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Waldo S. Tippin Gymnasium.

Gannon will return home Saturday to take on Pitt-Johnstown as part of the Gannon Athletics Hall of Fame doubleheader. Tipoff is slated for 3 p.m. at the Hammermill Center.


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