Fueled by a roaring crowd and a late 10-2 run, the No. 18 Crimson Hawks captured a tightly contested 64-54 victory over Gannon University Saturday, taking sole possession of first place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West division.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania was out-rebounded by Gannon for the second-consecutive meeting between the teams. But in spite of the Golden Knights’ 32-23 advantage in that category, the Crimson Hawks found a way to out-muscle their divisional foes in a game that saw a combined 34 fouls take place.
“We played with a chip on our shoulder,” said Shawn Dyer (graduate, criminology), who helped carry IUP’s offense with 15 points and also contributed four rebounds. “Gannon is a great and physical team, but we feel like we are the best team in the conference.”
Point guard Devante Chance (senior, communications media), who is now just four points shy of reaching the 1,000-point mark for his career, also played a pivotal role in IUP’s win. On a night when he played all 40 minutes for the fifth time this season, Chance posted 18 points, seven assists, four rebounds and five steals.
He also knocked down free throws late in the game to seal the win for the Crimson Hawks.
“It always feels great to beat a team that you lost to in the past,” Chance said. “We had to go out and prove we are the best team in the conference.”
A key contributor in the team’s fifth consecutive victory was the 20 points IUP scored off of Gannon’s 25 turnovers.
The game got sloppy for the Golden Knights in the second half, when they turned the ball over during four consecutive possessions and IUP capitalized.
Daddy Ugbede (junior, communications media) had one assist in the game, but it may have served as a turning point for IUP in the second half.
After wrestling the ball away from a Gannon player, Ugbede tossed the ball to a trailing Tevin Hanner (junior, sociology), who got fouled and converted the three-point play to start IUP’s 10-2 final run.
“[Hanner] has great energy and always comes in and gives us the lift we need off the bench,” said Jeremy Jeffers (redshirt senior, communications media).
Jeffers also made contributions for the Crimson Hawks.
The former Drake University transfer added eight points and a pair of three-pointers off Chance’s passes near the end of the game to seal the victory.
Ugbede finished with eight points and seven rebounds, while Hanner finished with nine points and two blocks that ignited the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex crowd.
IUP (20-3, 14-3) will travel to Mercyhurst (16-7, 13-5) Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.
Mercyhurst beat IUP 65-62 in the teams’ last outing on Dec. 3.
Mercyhurst is also 10-1 at home this season.