ERIE, Pa. -– No. 8 Gannon raced out to a 20-point lead during the first half and held off a late charge by No. 22 Bloomsburg for a 72-68 victory on Friday at the Hammermill Center. The verdict extended the Lady Knights win streak to 11 consecutive games.
Gannon moved to 4-1 against top-25 teams this season, falling only to top-ranked Ashland at the Disney Tip-Off Classic. The Lady Knights have also defeated a pair of teams listed among others receiving votes at the time of competition.
In the first half the Lady Knights produced three runs of at least seven points, shooting 50 percent (16-32) from the field while hitting six 3-pointers to take a 44-28 lead at the break.
The Lady Knights quickly opened a 14-4 lead with a 9-0 burst. Nettie Blake had back-to-back baskets before Doriyon Glass capped the run with a 3-point play on a driving lay-up.
A 7-0 run moments later pushed the Gannon advantage to 26-9 with 9:27 left in the first half. Leading 18-9, Brittany Batts and Sebald sandwiched two Blake free throws with a couple of long-range shots.
Bloomsburg clawed back within 26-14, but Gannon responded with eight consecutive points to grab its biggest lead of the evening at 34-14 with 5:15 showing on the first-half clock. Jennie Thies scored the first five points of the run, before another Batts’ triple gave the Lady Knights a 20-point lead.
The visitors again fought back to close the deficit to 13 points, but another Sebald 3-pointer with 37 seconds remaining capped the first-half scoring and sent the Lady Knights to the break with a 16-point advantage.
The second half was a completely different ball game. Bloomsburg limited Gannon to 31.6 percent shooting and allowed the Lady Knights to attempt only four 3-pointers during the final 20 minutes. The Huskies needed only 2:07 to cut the deficit into single digits and climbed within six points at the 14:07 mark. In all, the visitors opened the half with an 18-8 run during the first six minutes.
Bloomsburg kept the pressure on and later used an 8-0 run to grab its first lead since scoring the first four points of the game. Kayla Oxenrider started and capped the rally with a pair of 3-pointers. Her second gave the Huskies a 59-58 lead with 6:49 to play.
Neither team was able to produce a lead larger than three points the rest of the way until the final points of the game. Trailing 68-65, Blake was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound and buried both freebies.
Gannon then forced back-to-back turnovers and Blake was fouled again. She hit both attempts again, giving the Lady Knights the lead back at 69-68 with 1:14 remaining.
Bloomsburg was unsuccessful with 3-point attempts during its next two possessions. The last one was rejected by Jen Papich. Gannon responded with a Glass free throw after the first miss and two free throws by Blake after the second miss to ice the victory with 13 seconds remaining.
Sebald led all scorers with a career-high 21 points, four rebounds and three steals off the bench. The sophomore hit 7-of-12 shots, including 4-of-6 from long range.
Blake narrowly missed her eighth career double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Entering the game as a 59-percent free throw shooter, she converted 10-of-14 attempts from the line.
Sebald and Blake led a Gannon bench that out-scored Bloomsburg’s bench 42-10. Batts completed the Lady Knights’ double-digit scorers with 10 points.
Gannon shot 43.1 percent (22-51) from the field, 38.9 percent (7-18) from three-point range and 77.8 percent (21-27) from the free throw line.
Catherine Noack led Bloomsburg with 20 points. Oxenrider and Dana Wieller added 18 and 12 points, respectively.
Bloomsburg shot 42.1 percent (24-57) from the floor, 36.7 percent (11-30) from behind the arc and 100 percent (9-9) from the charity stripe. The Huskies finished at 51.9 percent (14-27) from the field and 50 percent (7-14) from long range during the final 20 minutes.
Gannon improved to 12-1 overall and remained perfect in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) at 6-0 with its 11th consecutive victory. It’s the program’s longest win streak since the 2009-10 NCAA Division II Final Four team ripped off 37 in a row to start the season. Bloomsburg dropped to 7-3 overall and 3-3 in conference action.