After a thrilling 70-69 win over Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-leading Indiana University of Pa. last Saturday afternoon in Morrow Field House, the Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team fell to Gannon University 75-63 on Wednesday night in Erie.
With the loss, the Rock (19-7 overall, 16-6 PSAC) lost the chance for a first-round bye and home-court advantage during the PSAC tournament.
Since the Rock lost the tiebreaker game to Gannon on Wednesday (22-6 overall, 16-6 PSAC), they will be the conference’s No. 3 seed.
“We have to get better, we can’t feel sorry for us,” head coach Kevin Reynolds said. “Sports are unforgiving. If you don’t come ready to play and aren’t having an A+ game, it usually doesn’t work out for you. We found that out (Wednesday).”
The loss to Gannon snapped a four-game winning streak for the Green and White.
Senior forward Gerald Brooks scored 16 points to lead the Rock. Senior guard Darious Clark contributed 12 points and senior forward Devin Taylor added 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Green and White got out to a 6-2 lead early in the game before Gannon went on a 10-0 run and didn’t look back for the remainder of the game. The Golden Knights took a 40-26 lead heading into the locker room.
“I think the biggest difference in the game was the first half,” Reynolds said. “We got too far behind and Gannon was more physical and aggressive than we were. They took the fight to us and we couldn’t rebound from that. We were down 16 at the half and that hurt. We couldn’t make that amount of points back up.”
The largest lead of the game for Gannon was 24 points (60-36) with a little over 11 minutes to play in the game. Slippery Rock cut the deficit to 10 points twice during the final minute of the game, but still fell short.
SRU ended the game shooting 36 percent (20 of 56) from the floor, 18 percent (3 of 17) from behind the three-point line, and 74 percent (20 of 27) from the charity stripe.
The Golden Knights finished the game shooting 53 percent (24 of 45) from the field, 56 percent (5 of 9) from three-point range, and 65 percent (22 of 34) from the foul line.
The Rock had a 36-30 rebounding advantage, but committed more turnovers (15-11).
Last Saturday, the Green and White defeated IUP at Morrow Field House, 70-69, in dramatic fashion.
Slippery Rock had a 10-point (68-58) lead with 2:30 to play in the game before IUP outscored the hosts 11-2 to almost take the game.
During the final 20 seconds, SRU missed four of six crucial free-throws, including two missed foul shots by Luiz Santos with 3 seconds to play.
IUP fired up a desperation half-court buzzer shot that bounced off
the back of the rim.
After the game, the entire student section stormed the court in celebration of knocking off the division’s top team.
Taylor led Slippery Rock with his 11th double-double of the season, scoring 26 points and snagging 11 rebounds.
Clark scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers, and dished out three assists in the Green and White.
For only the second time this season, the Rock was outrebounded by its opponents, 36-34, but had less turnovers compared to IUP (13-11).
Taylor was named PSAC-West Player of the Week for his performances last week. He averaged 20 points and 12.5 rebounds in the two games last week.
SRU will host sixth-place California University of Pa. Saturday night at 7 p.m. for a first-round game in the single-elimination tournament.
The winner will advance to play Gannon, who received the bye, on March 5 in Erie.
“We need to play with a little more aggressiveness and intensity, and be a lot more physical on Saturday,” Reynolds said.
“We’ve beaten Cal twice during the regular season, but it’s tough to beat a team three times in a season. We have to regroup as a team and get ready for this big game.”