Knights bounced out by Bloomsburg


The Gannon University women’s basketball team ended its season in the first round of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional tournament Friday by losing 81-76 to nationally ranked and fellow PSAC foe Bloomsburg.

The Knights led much of the game and were up by as many as 12 with 12 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the second half before eventually being defeated by the Huskies. Gannon fell to 18-2 on the season after having the lead at halftime.

Gannon was led by senior forward Mollie Sebald, who totaled a career-high 24 points in what would be the finale of her collegiate career, surpassing 1,000 career points as a Knight and becoming the 27th woman to do so.

Senior guard Brittany Batts had 16 points and five assists, and senior forward Nettie Blake added 10 points and six rebounds. Senior forward Candice Hendricks also tied a season high with eight rebounds.

Blake garnered several awards for her performance this year, including Daktronics/Division II Conference Commissioners Association All-Atlantic Region second team, All-PSAC first team, and was named the United States Basketball Writers Association Division II player of the week once as well.

Against Bloomsburg, Gannon held PSAC East Player of the Year Marla Simmons to only 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting and limited the PSAC East’s top freshman, Camden Boehner, to three points on 1-of-3 shooting. But Jocelyn Ford and Adreana Sadowski scored 20 points apiece for the Huskies.

The Huskies’ success continued, but they were ultimately defeated by regional No. 1 seed and host California University of Pennsylvania Monday night in the regional final.

Five of the eight teams in the Atlantic regional came from the PSAC – Gannon, Bloomsburg, California, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Westchester.

Coach Jim Brunelli said he doesn’t know if there’s a more competitive conference in Division II women’s basketball than the PSAC.

“What’s interesting is, in the initial rankings, us, Edinboro and Westchester were in the national Top 25, and during the course of the year, Westchester got votes, IUP was in, and so was Cal,” Brunelli said. “To have five or six teams right there in the Top 25 nationally is pretty special.”

The Knights lose four starting seniors in Blake, Sebald, Batts and Hendricks. Sebald said she has no regrets and feels blessed to play in front of such a supportive crowd and great program for four years.

“It’s been an incredible experience and so much fun,” she said. “It’s tough to love something so much, and then have it be over suddenly, but I wouldn’t change of minute of it with my team.”

The current edition of Knights earned its sixth NCAA tournament berth in seven years as the No. 6 seed in the Atlantic region, recording a 12-1 record at home, and finishing third in the PSAC West.

Brunelli said this group of seniors is the kind of people on and off the court that any school would love to have.

“Over 3,000 points, over 2,000 rebounds, four NCAA tournaments, more than 100 wins, and they’ve been even better representatives of the university off the court,” he said. “Hopefully we can continue to bring in kids like them – they’ve set the bar high.”

The Knights return starting point guard Amanda Berchtold and other key underclass contributors in juniors Morgan Neighbors and Jenny Thies, sophomore Brianna Brennan and freshman Mackenna Shives. Freshman Kelsey Dugger, out with injury most of the year, figures to see major minutes as well.

Brunelli said he’s happy with the core coming back and he’s looking forward to improving his battle-tested team.

“Morgan started eight games last year, so did Jenny, so we’re losing four starters, but we also have three coming back technically, counting Amanda,” he said.

“So I like what we have, and am excited to have Kelsey come back healthy and add to what already is a great group.”


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