CLARION, Pa. – The Clarion men’s basketball team led for much of the first half, but were unable to overcome a slow second half start in their 61-53 loss to Gannon in Tippin Gymnasium. With the loss, Clarion has dropped seven straight. The Golden Eagles fall to 2-14 and 1-9 in the PSAC, while Gannon improves to 7-7 and 6-4 in the PSAC.
Rebounding was the big difference maker for Gannon, as the Golden Knights out-rebounded Clarion by a 42-28 margin, while also snagging 13 offensive rebounds. Clarion shot 43% to Gannon’s 35%, but the Golden Knights were able to ride their rebounding advantage to victory, shooting nine more attempts and eight more free throws than the Golden Eagles.
Clarion enjoyed a fantastic 20 point night from Elijah Cottrill, who went 4-7 from beyond the arc. Kaison Branch tacked on 11 points, while Jordan Agyemang added seven points and seven boards, leading Clarion on the glass.
Gannon’s offense revolved around Chris Clancy and DeAnte Cisero, who scored 22 and 17 points respectively, accounting for well over half of Gannon’s point total.
Gannon was hot out of the gate, going on a 14-4 run in the opening six minutes, notching four offensive boards in that early stretch. Cottrill took it upon himself to erase the early deficit, hitting four consecutive buckets, including two threes, to give Clarion a 17-16 advantage at the 12 minute mark of the first half.
The remaining eight minutes of the first half were tough offensively, as both sides stepped things up on the defensive end. Clarion forced seven Gannon turnovers in the first half, while Gannon caused six Clarion turnovers. A tidy step-back jumper by Branch provided Clarion with the lead and their last points of the half, but a late Gannon three by Chris Clancy tied things up at 28 at the break. Cottrill led the Golden Eagles with 12 points, while Gannon’s Clancy led all first half scorers with 13.
Gannon gradually built a lead in the second half, holding the Blue and Gold to nine points in the opening ten minutes. Gannon looked to their big man to get their offense rolling in the second half, with Cisero knocking down a pair of midrange jumpers and finishing in tight to help increase Gannon’s lead to nine with 10 minutes left.
A pair of Clarion threes by Cottrill and Aaron Hilzendeger pulled Clarion within five, but Kevin Dodds and Cisero responded for Gannon, boosting the lead back to nine. Sparked by a Jordan Agyemang dunk, the Golden Eagles went on a late run that cut Gannon’s lead to four, but a late turnover and Gannon’s perfect 6-6 free-throw shooting down the stretch dashed Clarion’s hope of a late comeback.
The Clarion men get back into action this Saturday afternoon at Edinboro, with the tip-off expected around 3 pm, after the women’s contest. The Golden Eagles will then return home this Wednesday to face Bloomsburg.