As the final seconds ticked away in regulation of the Quarterfinal Round of the PSAC Playoffs against Gannon University, the Slippery Rock men’s basketball team saw the game-winning basket bounce off the rim.
Five minutes of play later, they watched the same scenario occur again, sending the game into double-overtime.
Fatigue began to set in for both teams but the Golden Knights would take the win 73-69.
“We had our chances to win,” head coach Kevin Reynolds said. “We had the last shot in regulation and in the first overtime. We just didn’t make it and they stopped us.”
Reynolds noted that the lack of made free throws hurt the team’s push for the win.
Gannon was led by junior Adam Blazek, who scored 25 points against the Rock and played in all 50 minutes of the game. Blazek was flawless from the line, shooting four for four, and sank three three-point shots.
“We were up by four in the first overtime and Maurice (Lewis-Briggs) hit a three and he (Blazek) came back less then 10 seconds later to get them back in the game,” Reynolds said. “Blazek is the Player of the Year in the league. That’s who I voted for and he gave phenomenal effort tonight.”
Lewis-Briggs led the scoring effort for Slippery Rock, with a game-high 31 points.
Redshirt senior forward Tabari Perry led SRU in rebounds (11) and scored nine points.
As a team, Slippery Rock out-rebounded Gannon 48-29.
Senior guard Josh Martin and sophomore center Cornelius Brown each added 11 points.
The final seven points for the Green and White came from redshirt junior guard Antonio Butler (four) and redshirt senior guard Sa’Quan Davis (three).
Slippery Rock made it to the line for 35 total shots but missed 12, finishing the game with a 65.7 percent success rate.
The Golden Knights finished slightly better than the Rock with a 66.7 percent average (20 for 30) from the line.
“I thought our team played well,” Reynolds said. “I’m disappointed in the ending but the effort from the guys, the toughness from them, that’s what you want to see as a coach.”
Lewis-Briggs, Perry and Brown all played for over 40 minutes in the game.
“We had guys play a lot of minutes and we had guys play well for a lot of minutes,” Reynolds said. “We tried to get guys quick breaks in and out but when guys are fouling out, that has an impact on the rotation.”
Redshirt sophomore Erik Raleigh fouled out with just over three minutes remaining in regulation.
The Golden Knights saw three players (junior Raphell Thomas-Edward, senior Rogerio Livramento and junior Girbran Smith) foul out during the game, two in overtime.
As the game progressed, fans, players and coaches began to experience a deja-vu like moment.
Last season, Slippery Rock and Gannon played in the Quarterfinals and SRU defeated the Golden Knights 62-58 in overtime. This time, Gannon would gain the upperhand.
“Losing is tough to take,” Reynolds said. “It’s never fun. I think the day I can accept losing, that’s the day coaching won’t be something I want to do anymore.”
In the first half, SRU held a 10-point lead with just over six minutes remaining but Gannon would go on to score 14 points and take a 28-26 lead at halftime.
The Rock came out strong for the second half and managed to take a 45-37 lead with just under 10 minutes of regulation. Gannon went on yet another run and came back to take the lead 51-50 with two minutes remaining.
Butler would sink a free throw to tie the game and after a missed shot by Gannon and two missed shots from SRU, the game would be forced into overtime.
The three-point shot of Blazek immediately following Lewis-Briggs’ shot would ultimately lead to a score of 58-58 and the game went into it’s second overtime period.
SRU held a brief lead with 2:10 remaining but Gannon would ultimately win the game 73-69.
“We’re disappointed but I’m proud of the players,” Reynolds said. “They wore their jerseys like they should and they gave a valiant effort. It was a great team effort but it just didn’t go our way. ”