ERIE, Pa. — Gannon defeated California (Pa.) 50-47 on Monday to advance the quarterfinals of the national tournament. The win was the 16th in a row at home for Gannon.
Gannon (31-4) did not catch up to California (22-9) until a sophomore Doriyon Glass layup with 8:47 left in the game to tie the score at 27.
It then became the Nettie Blake Show. Blake scored the next nine points to cap a 12-0 run for a 36-27 lead with 3:34 on the clock.
“Nettie not only played a good game, but she showed so much heart,” Gannon coach Cleve Wright said. “She put us on her back.”
Blake finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds for the Knights.
“I wasn’t pleased with my performance in the first half,” said Blake, who had two points and seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes. “I wasn’t about to let my teammates down.”
“I felt like we were on the edge and ready to go on a run,” Wright said. “But we knew Cal wasn’t going to give up.”
The Knights trailed by nine points in the first half. They eventually led by nine 45-36 when junior Jen Papich dropped in two free throws with 46 seconds on the clock.
But the Vulcans, who split two games with Gannon during the season and lost once in the PSAC playoffs, showed their heart. Senior Stephanie Michael’s second 3-pointer cut the Knights’ lead to 47-45.
Glass scored 16 points and had six rebounds. One of her biggest plays was a blocked a 3-point attempt by Michael with 10 seconds left. Michael attempted another 3-pointer, but this time it was sophomore Mollie Sebald who got a hand on the ball with 2 seconds left. Cal sophomore Chelsea McKnight grabbed the rebound off the rim as time expired.
“I couldn’t have asked for them to play harder or better defense,” California coach Jess Strom said.
Junior Ashley Hines, scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Vulcans. But she had trouble stopping Blake in the paint.
Gannon scored just 6 of 27 shots in the first half against the tough Vulcan defense, but Wright felt the team just needed to concentrate on its shots. He was pleased with the defense, which limited Cal to 7 of 23 shooting.
“The first thing I talked about at halftime was our excellent defense,” Wright said. “And they were able to finish when we went on the run in the second half.”
Sophomore Brittany Batts, known for her long-range shooting, made just 1 of 7 3-pointers, but she had four steals.
“I try to work hard on defense every day,” Batts said. “But I didn’t get any of those steals on my own.”
Papich, who had three personal fouls in the first half, scored seven points and had six rebounds.