The Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team (20-10 overall, 14-8 PSAC) was blown out by Gannon University (21-8 overall, 18-4 PSAC) Tuesday in the second round of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Tournament.
Gannon handed SRU their largest loss of the season by defeating them 71-45.
“They came ready to play and they were ready to go,” SRU head coach Kevin Reynolds said. “We had a multitude of defensive errors. I think a combination of those two things are what hurt us. We did a poor job as a coaching staff conveying to the guys what Gannon’s game plan was going to be.”
Gannon jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The Golden Knights went into halftime leading the Rock 44-22, which is the largest deficit SRU has faced at halftime this season.
“We wanted to chip away at it and our goal was to try and chip six away,” Reynolds said. “It was one of those nights. It was their night and we didn’t play at the level we normally play at.”
In the first half, the Rock shot 28 percent (7-25) from the field and in the second half they were 6-18 (33.3 percent) from the field. Gannon had a strong shooting percentage, shooting 66.7 (18-27) from the field in the first half. With such a heavy lead, Gannon took their foot off the gas in the second half and shot just 34.8 percent (8-23) from the field, but the game was already in-hand.
The Green and White had one scorer in double-digits with senior guard Antonio Butler scoring 12 points (4-13) to go along with four rebounds and two assists. Butler has been selected to be apart of first team All-PSAC. Junior guards Abdul King and Malcolm Richardson scored seven and six points respectively.
“They guarded us well and when we got down, they got us on our heels,” Reynolds said. “They came out so ready to play and so fiery, where in retrospect, I think we got sped up. When you get to double-digits, you try to make it back. They got us out of rhythm.”
Gannon was led by their senior guard Adam Blazek, who scored 18 points (6-12) to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The Rock is currently ranked seventh in the Atlantic Region by the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Selection Committee and will find out on Sunday whether or not they will be in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
“That’s the hard part now is when you don’t control your own destiny,” Reynolds said. “You have to hope that other teams win or other teams lose. At the same time, we have to keep a positive mindset.”
Reynolds believes his team belongs in the tournament and that SRU has played one of the toughest schedules in the conference this season.
“We believe that we deserve it, but it’s the committee who decides, so we have to be patient and wait till Sunday to hopefully get to see our name on the big board,” Reynolds said.