After a slew of double-digit losses to average teams this season, Gannon's 73-66 loss vs. #9 IUP last night was actually palatable. No, it was more than that. It was a sign that the Knights are progressing both as a unit and as individuals. Many in the Hammermill Center crowd recognized that and gave GU a standing ovation as the final seconds ticked away. Could you have pictured that after a loss last year? Expectations have been so high the last two seasons that even some wins left Gannon fans disappointed. The only thing the angered the GU faithful last night was the officiating. Among the referees' mistakes, one call and one non-call really stood out to me.
Darryl Webb, IUP's best player who tallied 20 points and 14 rebounds last night, picked up a loose ball on the sidelines and, out of control, lept in the air and threw a crosscourt pass, crashing over Gannon's George Johnson in the process. Despite loud protests from the Gannon coaching staff and Hammermill faithful, the Crimson Hawks retained possession and Webb was not charged with a foul (pun intended). Later, at 8:28 mark of the second half, Gannon's Alphonso Scandrett caught the ball in the middle of the lane during a fast break, and quickly turned to the rim as Webb slid underneath him. The basket was waved off, and Scandrett was whistled for a mind-blowing and momentum-blowing charge. I'm not saying those two calls blew the game for Gannon. But if they would have gone Gannon's way, Webb would have played less than the 36 minutes he logged last night, and the complexion of the game certainly would have changed.
Speaking of Scandrett, I think last night may have been his best game in a Gannon uniform. Every night he brings intensity and rebounding, but vs. IUP he was a legitimate offensive threat. Scandrett hit for 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, mostly from the wing. Furthermore, his aggressiveness stretched the IUP defense and made Johnson (23 points) even harder to guard. With Mark Demski's apparently season-ending injury, Scandrett is the only scholarship senior on the GU roster. That fact, plus the "good loss" to IUP, is giving Gannon fans hope for the rest of this season and beyond.