Before gushing about Gannon's potentially NCAA-saving rally to stop Pitt-Johnstown today, 75-64 on the road, look at what happened around the Atlantic Region this week:
1. West Liberty: W vs. West Va. Wesleyan, W at #7 Glenville State
2. East Stroudsburg: W at Cheyney
3. Indiana (Pa.): W vs. #10 Mercyhurst, W vs. Edinboro
4. Charleston: W vs. Urbana, W vs. Notre Dame (Oh.)
5. Shepherd: W at UVa-Wise, W at Concord
6. Gannon: W vs. Clarion, W at Pitt-Johnstown
7. Glenville State: W at Wheeling Jesuit, L vs. #1 West Liberty
8. Fairmont State: W at Concord, L at UVa-Wise
9. Livingstone: W vs. St. Augustine, L at Winston-Salem
10. Mercyhurst: L at #3 IUP, Sunday at Clarion
Everyone in the top 6 had a perfect week, so don't expect the Knights
to move up when the rankings are announced this Wednesday. But look at
what happened to teams 7-10. Each of them took at hit, and with
them having regular season games to play and conference tournaments
looming, they will likely each lose at least one other game as well.
Does this mean that even if Gannon stumbles in its PSAC Quarterfinal game
-- probably against Slippery Rock -- the Knights are still likely to get an
at-large bid? I'm not saying Gannon is a shoe-in, but two teams behind
them are going to have to make a deep postseason run to kick a team that
was perfect in February and has won 12-of-13 out of the region's top 8.
worst Gannon will be this year is 18-9. Glenville and Fairmont already
have 9 in-region losses while Mercyhurst has 10. Livingstone is 14-6 in
the region but they play in the CIAA which is way down this year and
represented by only one team in the region's top 10. (The Mountain East
has 5 ranked teams and the PSAC 4.) I'm sure the Gannon team isn't
looking ahead like I just outlined, but it sure is fun for fans to talk
about this subject and what could be for our Knights. Now back to the
GU/UPJ game ...
I followed most of the game via
live stats and had a pit in my stomach as UPJ rained down threes and
extended their second-half lead to 8, 47-39, with just under 14 minutes
to play. That's when I got home and and began to watch the Knights go on
a decisive 28-8 tear via the live video stream. It took Gannon fewer
than 4 minutes to tie the game, and once they seized the momentum, the
Mountain Cats headed for the hills. If the Knights didn't hit their open
jumper or layup, they were snagging the offensive rebound then going up
strong. On defense, they clamped down on UPJ's three-point shooters --
they hit 11 on the afternoon -- and made them work clock before turning
the ball over or forcing up a contested jumper.
played like champions. The box score reflects that and so do the PSAC
standings. Adam Blazek (40 minutes), A'Darius Porter (38) and C.J.
Oldham (37) combined for 5 minutes of rest the entire game.
Porter produced a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds while
Blazek stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 8 boards, 3 assists, and 2
steals. And I haven't even mentioned Raphell Thomas-Edwards (16 and 8)
or Girbran Smith (15, 5, and a crazy-athletic tip-dunk) who led Gannon in scoring for the game.
Despite limited playing time, Tee Talley contributed as well with 4
points in 5 minutes plus Matthew Dogan hit for 5 points.
Gannon fans have to be thrilled
that this team isn't stumbling into the postseason. They are as hot --
and as dangerous -- as any team in Division II play right now.