Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Back In Control! Knights Hold Off Clarion While Mercyhurst Shocks #16 IUP With Late Three

Just days after it appeared the chances of winning the PSAC West were bleak, Gannon had a perfect Wednesday night and is now just three victories away (against teams with a 23-32 combined league record) from earning the right to host the PSAC tournament. The Knights took care of business at Clarion, 78-71, while Mercyhurst stunned #16 Indiana (Pa.), 58-55, on a Jean Onana three-pointer with two seconds to play. As you can see in the updated standings on this page, IUP is a half game behind Gannon, but my understanding is that the Knights hold the tiebreakers over the Crimson Hawks by virtue of GU's two wins over the Lakers.

Before we take a quick look back at tonight's game, let's look ahead. Gannon's final three PSAC regular season games are Saturday vs. Pitt-Johnstown, then at California and vs. Seton Hill. The Knights have already lost to UPJ and Cal and held on for dear life at last-place Seton Hill, so don't start printing those playoff tickets for the Hammermill yet. But you have to like the opportunity in front of the Knights. If I would have told you in the preseason that you could give me $100 for Gannon to be in this spot in mid-February, you'd have forked over that cash and maybe even left me a tip.

I could only follow the game via live stats on my phone -- and to be truthful, down the stretch I was looking at the Hurst/IUP game as much as the Gannon game -- so I can't offer lots of insights. But a few items on the box score sure jump out:
* Gannon won the rebounding margin by a comical 47-18 advantage. On the offensive glass, Gannon held an 18-3 advantage.
* The Knights shot 52.5% for the game, including 58% (18-for-31) in the first half. Raphell Thomas-Edwards was the most consistent shooter, hitting 9-of-13 field goals in just 22 minutes of action.
* How in the world did Gannon win by only 7 despite those statistics I just cited? Well, GU was just 1-of-8 on threes while Clarion was 7-for-17 on treys and 20-of-29 at the foul line.
* It's great to see Matthew Dogan provide an offensive spark: 12 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field and a 5-of-6 performance at the line. I've said all year when bench players like Dogan and Rich Austin (10 points in 19 minutes) produce, this team goes from very good to special.

As high as I am tonight about the results, I know -- and I know John Reilly knows better than I know -- that everything could come crashing down again Saturday afternoon. The Knights should enjoy their bus ride home, but they need to get back to work Thursday during practice to keep PSAC West title hopes in their control.

UPDATED 2/12/15 11:00 PM: Other regional games of interest from Wednesday and Thursday (numbers denote most recent Atlantic Region CoSIDA rankings). It was a disastrous night for the CIAA leaders; Mountain East results will be updated after their games Thursday over half of the top 10 plus the clubs just outside the CoSIDA list. Taking hits in the past 24 hours were teams ranked #2, #3, #4, #4, #6, #6, plus PSAC East leader Stroud and CIAA South leader Livingstone. Record-wise, WLU and IUP are the top clubs in the region. It's a free for all from 3 on down:

#1 West Liberty: W at Shepherd
#2 IUP: L at #9 Mercyhurst
#3 Bowie State: L at Virginia Union (VUU is now 8-15 on the season)
#4T Glenville State: L at Urbana (75-42; talk about the wheels falling off!)
#4T Fairmont State: L vs. Wheeling Jesuit
#6T Charleston: L at Concord
#6T Virginia State: L at Chowan
#8 Slippery Rock: W at Edinboro
#10 Gannon: W at Clarion
East Stroudsburg: L at Southern Connecticut State
Livingstone: L at Fayetteville State 

11 comments:

  1. Mercyhurst IUP is big one tonight. Not sure what to think. May be in our best interests for IUP to win and make sure we get second place. Second would assure a first round bye and home quarterfinal and a neutral court semifinal if GU wins.

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  2. We need to get past Clarion. I envisioned a dogfight down there, and, so far, that is what we have on our hands. Gannon leads, 25-22, 7:18 1st half....



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  3. Halftime scores: Gannon up 6 at Clarion. IUP up 1 at Mercyhurst. Slippery Rock up 1 at Edinboro. Typical nerve wracking night in the PSAC West.

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  4. GU shooting 58% from the field but just 20% at the line, outrebounding CU 23-7 including a 10-1 advantage on offensive boards.

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  5. Whew...!!!....We'll take it!!! Great, focused, team win!!

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    Up on the "Hill", IUP, without Norfleet (ankle hurt in GU game) was bottled up, and nipped late. This is going to be a wild closing stretch in PSAC West.

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  6. Just received this email from a Gannon fan. Was a crazy game at Mercyhurst:

    Went to IUP Mercyhurst game and saw probably 3 of the most unbelieveable shots in one game.

    IUP player Chance with time running down on the shot clock in 2nd half with I believe with less than 5 minutes took a 3 point shot from about 5 ft beyond the arc at the top of the key which banked off the glass hit the front rim banked back off the glass then hit the front rim and then banked back off the glass and then fell in for a 3 point shot as shot clock expired. The person sitting next to me and I agreed in all the years of watching basketball we have never seen such a shot.

    Also, the falling down and twisting of a Mercyhurst player Jones and tipping the ball in which put Mercyhurst ahead in the game with less than 2 minutes to go. Then the final shot which was taken by the Mercyhurst guard Onana who we all agreed like his teammate said in the news article on the game that he was probably fouled on the shot, but officials will not call it and let the players decide. Manchel was screaming for a foul which he did not get when IUP called for a timeout.

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  7. Be sure to check out my most recent update to the blog post. It was a bloodbath for the Mountain East and CIAA leaders Wed. and Thu. I've never seen this many of the top teams lose over the course of two days in the regular season.

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  8. Is the Mountain East that strong that they have five of the top seven teams in the region?

    So what is the tiebreak that gives Gannon the advantage over IUP?

    And if we get to that point, Gannon would win a three way tie with Hurst and IUP via head to head, correct? That comeback at the MAC before Thanksgiving is looming large at this point. Still have to take care of business, though.

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  9. I believe the tiebreak over IUP will be Gannon's sweep of Mercyhurst. You are correct if Gannon doesn't take care of business Saturday, we'll be talking about heartbreak, not tiebreaks.

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  10. UPJ's catch and shoot guy might be best pure shooter in the league. (Don't we know from last outing). Another playoff game awaits.

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  11. http://www.psacsports.org/custompages/Handbook/mbasketball.pdf

    In case anyone is interested, tiebreaking procedures are in the link above on page 4.

    Surprised that division record is not the first tiebreaker. If I were in charge, the first tiebreaker would be division record. The third or fourth for me would be strength of east schedule.

    Even if division record were the first tie-break, GU would still be in the driver's seat, as Gannon has just three losses against the west; all four of IUP's losses are against the west.

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