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Golden Rams Handle Gannon 52-44 on Saturday Evening

West Chester will take a 3-0 record into tomorrow's conference game at Clarion University.
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ERIE, Pa. - The West Chester University men's basketball team hit the road on Saturday afternoon and headed out west to the Hammermill Center in Erie, Pennsylvania to begin conference play with a battle against Gannon University.
 
The Golden Rams entered Saturday's conference opener with a perfect 2-0 record and coming off a 26-point victory over Wesley College at the Schwartz Center on the campus of Widener University. Conversely, Gannon came into Saturday's game at 1-1 on the year, having just defeated Shepherd University by ten on the road.
 
After holding Chestnut Hill College to just 27% shooting from the floor in its last game, West Chester's defense was once again the focal point for the Golden Rams attack against Gannon. Head Coach Damien Blair's squad held the Golden Knights to just 17 points in the first half on just 30% (8-of-26) shooting from the floor and 1-of-9 (11%) from beyond the arc. Entering Saturday's conference matchup at No. 10 in NCAA Division II field goal percentage defense (0.351), West Chester managed to hold Gannon to just 36% shooting overall (19-of-52) and kept the No. 2 three-point shooting team in the PSAC (44%) to just a 2-of-14 (14%) clip from beyond the arc on Saturday night. Although it was not the best offensive performance for the Golden Rams in Erie, West Chester's defense was able to carry the squad to a 52-44 victory over Gannon on Saturday – marking the lowest offensive output for a West Chester opponent so far this season.
 
Matt Penecale (Jenkintown, Pa./Abington) started the game with a triple and that was followed by a layup from Tyrell Long (Philadelphia, Pa./Bishop McDevitt) to put West Chester up 5-0 with 17 minutes to play in the opening frame. Gannon managed to cut the deficit to three (7-4), before a three pointer by Steve Smith (Ambler, Pa./La Salle) and a field goal by Jackson Hyland (Avondale, Pa./Kennett) would stretch the visitors advantage to 12-4 at the 12:25 mark. After a layup by Smith at 8:53 put the Golden Rams up 14-9, it would be over three minutes until either side would be able to put any more points on the board. Following a layup by Long at 3:16 (19-13), the Golden Knights managed to score the next four-unanswered points to trim the deficit to just two (19-17) with two minutes remaining in the stanza. The half ended with a free throw by Jawan Collins (Yeadon, Pa./Academy Park) to put the visitors up 20-17 after a hard-fought opening 20 minutes.
 
A layup by Gannon's Damon Miraud brought the Golden Knights within one (22-21) in the first three minutes of the second half, before Long quickly answered with a layup of his own to push the WCU lead to three with just under 17 minutes to play in the game. The Golden Rams slowly started to build a comfortable lead over the next few minutes of the half, extending the cushion to as many as 19 points (46-27) with under 10 minutes to go. After a jumper by Long put the visitors up 52-38, Gannon scored the next six-straight points to trim the deficit to eight (52-44) with just 46 seconds remaining. Eight would be as close as the Golden Knights would get for the remainder of the half, however, as Hyland shut the door on Gannon (Plainfield, N.J./St. Mary's)a block that would land into the hands of Long who would hold the ball until time ran out.
 
Long's 14 points and nine rebounds on Saturday were both a game high, while Hyland chipped in 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor. Frank Rokins  (Plainfield, N.J./St. Mary's) finished the game with four points and six boards in 27 minutes and Smith's nine points on Saturday were the most off the bench for the Golden Rams.
 
Gannon's offense featured two scorers in double figures, led by Jair Green's 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting from the floor. Daryl Porter contributed 10 points off the bench in the loss, while Evan Phoenix finished with four points, six rebounds and two assists on Saturday.
 

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