At long last, the drought is over.
The Slippery Rock men’s basketball team picked up a win against Gannon at the Hammermill Center for the first time since 2013, defeating the Golden Knights Saturday afternoon, 78-68.
Having lost nine consecutive road games against Gannon, the last win coming courtesy of a 62-58 overtime win in the 2013 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference quarterfinals, Slippery Rock (14-12, 10-10 PSAC) rode junior Deontae Robertson’s 17 points to snap that losing streak.
Despite Gannon (13-12, 12-9 PSAC) scoring the first bucket of the game, a jumper from DeAnte Cisero, Slippery Rock would quickly jump out to an early lead.
An emphatic dunk from senior Micah Till, off a fast-break feed from sophomore Amante Britt, pushed the early lead to four points and Slippery Rock didn’t look back.
While Slippery Rock held a lead throughout the first half, hovering around five points ahead of Gannon, the teams traded baskets.
Back to back 3-pointers from seniors Donovan Walker and Jared Armstrong with just over five minutes remaining in the half pushed the Slippery Rock lead to 12 points and coasted to a 42-32 halftime lead.
Robertson did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting and a perfect 2-of-2 from beyond the arc.
Slippery Rock caught fire in the first half, spearheaded by Robertson, shooting 61.5% from the field and connected on 7-of-11 3-point attempts. Gannon was held to just 37.5% shooting and shot 33% from beyond the arc.
Halfway through the second half, Gannon’s Matt Johnson connected on a jumper to pull the Knights within four, the smallest deficit since trailing 25-21 with 7:16 remaining in the first half.
Another pair of back to back 3-pointers, both from Walker this time, stretched the 58-54 lead back to 64-54, and Gannon was never able to cut more than eight points into the deficit the rest of the way.
A layup from Armstrong at the buzzer stretched the lead back to 10 points, and Slippery Rock picked up a crucial road victory.
SRU: Robertson led the way for Slippery Rock, scoring 17 points, on 6-of-7 shooting, and dishing out three assists.
Till stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks. Freshman Lashon Lindsey added a 13-point, 8-rebound showing, and Armstrong rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12 points and a team-high five assists.
GU: Frank Webb, Jr. led all players with 23 points and 13 rebounds in a dominant all-around effort. Cisero followed up with 21 points and nine rebounds in a near double-double performance.
No one else scored more than six points for Gannon.
SRU: Slippery Rock improves to 14-12 on the season and 10-10 in the conference with the win.
The victory for Slippery Rock created a scenario where SRU is able to pass Gannon in the standings over the last couple of games.
If Gannon defeats California (Pa.) in California, the Knights clinch the fifth seed in the conference tournament. With a loss and Slippery Rock wins over Edinboro on the road and Mercyhurst at home, SRU would clinch the fifth seed.
Without senior Will Robinson, Jr., one of the Slippery Rock’s starting forwards, SRU has gone 3-0 over a couple of PSAC tournament teams.
GU: Gannon falls to 13-12 on the season and 12-9 in the conference with the loss.
Gannon still controls its destiny in terms of clinching the fifth seed in the PSAC tournament but has opened the door for Slippery Rock to jump them.
Slippery Rock will conclude its regular season away games with a road matchup against an Edinboro team which has lost 15 straight games. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.