Gannon takes early lead, tames Rams
Composed and unhurried was Gannon (Pa.) in its comfortable 79-69 win over Shepherd on the second night of the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center tournament that began another Rams’ season.
Shepherd could never make the Golden Knights from Erie feel the slightest discomfort because its defense lacked pressure on ball handlers, shooters and dribblers/passers in Gannon’s front court.
Because of its ability to get the highest quality shots, Gannon could shoot 51 percent from the field as well as take care of the ball. The Golden Knights had only nine turnovers.
With only a 37-34 lead at the half, Gannon moved crisply to a more definitive 53-38 advantage early in the last half.
The Rams had little effect on the game with their usual man-to-man defense so they switched to a 2-3, halfcourt zone that was just as generous.
Once the Gannon lead had been stretched to 17 points, Shepherd’s lone offensive spark was A.J. Carr, who took complete charge of the Ram offense and eventually scored 29 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field.
Whenever Carr’s scoring put small dents in the Gannon lead the Golden Knights grabbed enough offensive rebounds to continue in control.
Peppering the interior of any sort of Shepherd defense, Gannon continued to gain high percentage shots.
Zay Jackson (21 points), Jair Green (18 points) and 6-foot-9 Evan Phoenix (16 points and 10 rebounds) were the most obvious forces in Gannon’s victory.
Carr’s quality shooting was the main reason the Rams made 46 percent of their shots. But they converted only 64 percent of their free throws.
Shepherd guard Steffen Davis continued his off-target shooting, going 4-for-15 after making only three of 11 shots the night before in a loss to Bowie State.
The Rams had lost to a well-coached group of enthusiastic players whose under-control methods had smoothed the way to a road victory.