Brittany Batts (Leesburg, Va./Loudoun County) scored a game-high 19 points as the No. 6 Gannon women’s basketball team completed a sweep of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division Saturday night with a 66-50 victory at West Chester.
Gannon has been untouchable against the PSAC East during the last two seasons, going 8-0 against the opposite division both years. The Lady Knights haven’t lost to a PSAC East team since an 83-62 setback at Shippensburg on January 9, 2011.
In the process, Gannon also extended its current overall win streak to 14 games. The Lady Knights haven’t tasted defeat since a 70-59 loss against top-ranked Ashland on November 10. The 14-game streak is the program’s longest since the 2009-10 NCAA Division II Final Four squad rolled off 37 straight victories.
Another streak that remained intact was Gannon’s record when leading at halftime. The Lady Knights have now won 18 consecutive games dating back to last season when holding the upper hand at the break.
Gannon methodically assumed control of Saturday’s contest at West Chester during the first half. A 9-2 run spurred by five consecutive points from Mollie Sebald (Broadview Heights, Ohio/Holy Name) on a three-pointer and a lay-up gave the Lady Knights a 14-6 lead 5:40 into the contest.
The advantage ballooned to 26-12 at the 5:20 mark without the aid of an extended run. But a late West Chester blitz made the game interesting at halftime. The Golden Rams rattled off the final five points of the half, including a buzzer-beater by Alex Lennon that sent Gannon into the break with a 31-25 lead.
West Chester made one last run early in the second half. Following an opening Gannon basket, the Golden Rams hit back-to-back three-pointers to pull within 33-31 two minutes into the half.
However, Batts answered the West Chester triples with one of her own to push the Gannon lead back to 36-31. The long-range bomb ignited an 8-0 burst that included a Nettie Blake (Jersey City, N.J./Marist) lay-up and another three by Batts.
The advantage sat at 43-37 when Gannon put the game away. The Lady Knights ripped off 10 straight points for a commanding 16-point lead. Sebald scored eight of the 10 points, starting the run with a normal three-pointer and ending it with an old-fashion three-point play on a hoop and a foul. As Sebald was pouring in the points, the Gannon defense was holding West Chester scoreless for five minutes and 48 seconds.
Gannon’s biggest lead of the evening came at 60-43 following another Batts’ three-pointer with 5:59 to play. The difference hovered between 10 and 17 points the rest of the way until the Lady Knights secured a 66-50 victory.
Batts led all scorers on both sides with 19 points, hitting 7-of-10 shots. The NCAA Division II’s third-best three-point shooter drilled five of her eight long-range attempts. Sebald was the only other Lady Knight in double digits with 15 points off the bench.
Gannon shot 41.8 percent (23-55) from the field, 47.4 percent (9-19) from three-point range and 61.1 percent (11-18) from the free throw line.
Dallas Ely was the only West Chester player to reach double figures in scoring, netting 13 points. The Golden Rams shot 32.7 percent (17-52) from the floor, 26.5 percent (9-34) from behind the arc and 77.8 percent (7-9) from the charity stripe.
Gannon, ranked sixth in the USA Today Sports Division II Coaches’ Poll, improved to 15-1 overall and remained perfect in the PSAC at 9-0 with its 14th consecutive victory. West Chester dropped to 8-5 overall and 5-4 in conference play. The Golden Knights return to PSAC Western Division action Wednesday, January 16 at defending PSAC champion Edinboro. Game time at the McComb Fieldhouse is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
For more about all of Gannon’s sports teams, check out http://www.gannonsports.com.