Men’s basketball falls to Gannon

Published by adviser, Author: Brian Hepfinger - Sports Editor, Date: January 29, 2015
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Despite leading by eight points with nine minutes left in the game, the Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team (15-6) suffered their first home loss of the season Wednesday night against the Golden Knights of Gannon University (13-7), 74-71.

Gannon went into halftime with a 29-28 lead over the Rock, even though SRU shot 57.1 percent from the field as opposed to the Golden Knight’s 42.9 percent. Senior guard Antonio Butler led the way for the Green and White in the first half, scoring nine of his 23 points (7-13).

“When you play a team as good as Gannon, you can’t spot them nine points on mental breakdowns,” Reynolds said. “We should’ve rebounded the balls with two hands. Nine points is too many to give against a lower-end team, let alone Gannon. So instead of being up 28-20 at the half, we were down 29-28.”

The second half was also a close game, and SRU took the lead within a minute of when the half began. They held that lead until Gannon sophomore guard Matthew Dogan hit a three point shot to take it with five minutes left. SRU tried to gain the lead back, but every time they scored, Gannon scored. Gannon led by six points at one point, and eventually the Rock cut it to three. SRU junior guard Kelvin Goodwin got off a three point shot attempt with one second remaining in the game, which would have tied it, but he came up short.

“We started the second half strong, but then slowly but surely, we lost the lead,” Reynolds said. “Those mental breakdowns are the game. They scored 16 points on mental breakdowns, and that’s something we have to fix as a coaching staff. We have to get the guys more in-tuned to play better.”

Reynolds attributed the Rock’s inability to maintain their lead to the Rock’s defense.

“We couldn’t stop them,” Reynolds said. “In the second half, they were 16-25 from the field, and they had seven offensive rebounds. We didn’t get any stops. There’s no shortcuts to guarding; you have to guard fundamentally sound, and we didn’t do that.” Reynolds said.

SRU was led by Butler, senior forward Frank Holloway and Goodwin. Along with his 23 points, Butler had three assists, five rebounds and was the game’s leading scorer. Holloway scored 20 points (9-13) to go along with four assists and four rebounds. Goodwin scored 13 points (5-9, 3-5 from three) and had three assists. Junior guard Jamal Gatali led the way on defense with three blocks to go along with six points and three assists.

Gannon was led by senior guard Adam Blazek, who scored 17 points (6-16) to go along with eight assists and five rebounds. Senior guard Girbran Smith was the next highest scorer with 10 points (3-5), one assist and two rebounds.

A key to Gannon’s victory is the turnover margin. Gannon turned over the ball eight times, while the Rock turned the ball over 15 times. Six of the SRU turnovers were off of steals.

“The four keys to the game was guarding them from the two, guarding them from the three, winning the rebound margin and taking care of the ball, and we didn’t do any of that,” Reynolds said. “We shot free throws better, but if you win only one out of five components in a game, it’s hard to win.”

The Rock had one of their best free throw percentages as a team this season (81.3 percent), while Gannon shot just 50 percent (12-24).

“We need to keep getting better at the mental aspect, and as coaches we need to do a better job of emphasizing that,” Reynolds said. “With Pitt-Johnstown coming up on Saturday, it’s a road game it’s going to be a hard game, especially coming off of an emotional loss. We need to regroup and get ready to play.”

SRU’s next game is against the University of Pitt-Johnstown (9-10 overall, 1-7 away) on Saturday in Johnstown, Pennsylvania at 3 p.m.

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