On the day when senior guards Lexi Carpenter and Cassidy Wright were to be honored as seniors, the Slippery Rock University women’s basketball team was dominated by the Gannon University Golden Knights, losing 84-55.
Before the game, Wright and Carpenter were recognized, as they would be both playing their final home game for the Green and White. Wright transferred to SRU prior to this season from Arkansas-Pine Bluff. She played in 25 games this season, averaging 17.1 minutes, 4.8 points and one rebound and assist. Wright is third on the team this year with 28 made three-pointers.
For Carpenter, this was her second season at The Rock after transferring from Division I Dayton. Carpenter has appeared in 47 games (43 starts) for The Rock, averaging 18.2 points and 4.6 assists per game. Carpenter is third in the Slippery Rock record books in both points per game and assists per game and she is the Slippery Rock University career leader in free throw shooting percentage at 88.1 percent. Despite missing the previous five games, and missing this one, Carpenter leads the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) in scoring this season, with 19.1 points. Carpenter would be the first Rock player since the 2002-03 season.
In the first quarter, the Green and White could not get anything going offensively. As a team, they shot 2-15 (13.3 percent) and scored a paltry five points. While The Rock could not get any shots to fall, Gannon could not miss. The Golden Knights scored 24 points in the first quarter, shooting 9-17 (52.9 percent). Trailing by 19 points after just the first quarter, Rock head coach Bobby McGraw kept telling his team that their shots would start falling.
“We missed so many shots that we normally make. We were getting good looks, but when you’re not guarding as well as you need to, you have to win the shootouts,” McGraw said. “For every two we give up we have to get that two back and we weren’t doing that and that was the main focus at the end of the first quarter.”
SRU faired better in the second quarter, scoring 16 points on 6-13 (46.2 percent) shooting, but Gannon stayed hot, scoring 19 points on 8-16 (50 percent) shooting.
The Green and White also struggled to rebound the ball early in the game. In the first half, Gannon center Lanise Saunders tallied nine rebounds herself while the entire Rock team only had 11.
The Rock picked up their play in the second half, but could never climb far enough out of that first quarter hole to make the game competitive. Gannon went on to win the game 84-55, while shooting 50 percent (30-60) from the floor for the entire game. The Rock only shot 30.6 percent (19-62) by comparison.
Guard Maggie Mitchell lead the way for Gannon, leading all scorers with 30 points and Suanders picked up a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Without Carpenter to account for Mitchell defensively, McGraw had to play one-on-one defense on her all afternoon.
“It’s taxing because, now when you’re focusing so much attention on Maggie Mitchell because she’s such a good player, the people we have face-guarding her, they’re now shot on the offensive end from all the energy they’re spending on defense,” McGraw said. “It’s a two-way street when you’re in a situation where you’re depth is hurting that bad and you have to adjust what you do defensively.”
For The Rock, junior C.C. Dixon (13), sophomore Morgan Henderson (10) and freshman Brooke Hinderliter (11) all scored in double figures.
The loss drops SRU’s record to 9-16 (6-13 PSAC) with two games left to play. Without the playoffs to look forward to, McGraw said that he is just having his team take it one day at a time.
“We’re still grinding away,” McGraw said. “That’s the great thing about sports, they have the day off tomorrow and Monday’s a brand new day.”
The Rock will look to knock-off Edinboro University at home on Wednesday. The Scotts are 15-4 on the year and will be looking for revenge after losing at Slippery Rock 69-58 earlier this season. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. at McComb Fieldhouse.