The Slippery Rock women’s basketball team (1-6, 0-3 PSAC) demonstrated their full potential Wednesday night despite falling to the No. 2 ranked Gannon Golden Knights (7-0, 3-0 PSAC), 73-76.
“Tonight’s play shows what everybody was telling us. We showed tonight that we can compete with anybody in the conference,” junior D’Asia Chambers said. “If we got this close to Gannon, then we can compete with anybody. I’m really proud of how hard my team played tonight.”
Chambers led the Rock with a career-high 30 points and eight rebounds.
The Rock and the Golden Knights exchanged streaks throughout the entire first half and entered the locker rooms with SRU trailing 31-44.
SRU opened the second half by going on a 17-10 run to tighten the score at 54-48. Slippery Rock capitalized on Gannon’s missed opportunities under the basket and brought the game within three points several times.
With six seconds left, sophomore Erica Aiello attempted a three pointer in desperation to tie the game as the crowd in Morrow Field House collectively held their breath.
The shout bounced off the rim and a groan echoed through the building.
“When you’re ranked number two, you’re going to get everyone’s best game. SRU gave us everything they have and I didn’t expect anything less,” said Gannon first year head coach Jim Brunelli. “They got a great young ball team here. Sometimes you have to survive a game and we did just that.”
SRU sophomore Aidan Geise contributed 15 points in the near upset. Sophomore Megan Hardimann tallied nine points along with Aiello scoring nine of her own. Senior Jazmyne Frost scored eight for the Rock.
The Golden Knights saw five of their players score in the double-digits on Wednesday night.
“I think we raised the bar for SRU women’s basketball tonight,
said SRU head coach Tanya Longo. “As hard as it is to swallow a loss, in this situation we do know what our potential is. We have a new level of expectations.”
Last Saturday, the squad earned the first win in 19 games with a 68-57 win over the Gray Wolves of Lourdes University in Ohio. The Rock’s last win prior to Saturday’s came on January 12th, 2012.
SRU trailed entering the half by eight points (32-40) but held the Gray Wolves to only 17 points in the second half.
“We stressed working on our defense heavily. That’s the number one thing that comes to mind,” Longo said. “Closing out the game and just knowing who you are guarding made the difference.”
Chambers posted her third double-double of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Geise contributed 12 points and eight rebounds, sophomore Rebecca Olkosky supplied 11 points and Frost scored 10 points of her own.
The Gray Wolves were led by 16 points from senior Tiffany Scott, senior Courney Slepko added 13 points and senior Tarynn Hampton contributed 10 points in the losing effort.
Coming off the win against Lourdes and near-upset against Gannon, SRU now looks to their next game Saturday against the University of Pitt-Johnstown (2-5, 1-2 PSAC).
“We really do treat every game similarly. Whatever game we are on is the most important,” Longo said looking forward.
SRU will tip-off against the Mountain Cats 1p.m.,Saturday at Johnstown, PA.