The expectations for the Gannon University women’s basketball team to return to the Erie Insurance Arena for the Elite Eight proved to be too much for the team, but the Knights’ 28-4 record is nothing to cry about.
Gannon dropped its fourth and final meeting of the season against Edinboro University of Pennsylvania 77-69 in Glenville, W.Va., Saturday.
The loss bounced the Knights out of the second round of the National Colligate Athletic Association Division II Atlantic Regional. Despite the loss, Gannon found some success in the tournament when it defeated Shaw University 76-70 Friday.
Coach Jim Brunelli said his team had to adjust to the stage it was playing at, but noted the Knights played strong defensively in the win.
“I thought we started a little slow,” Brunelli said. “We had some nerves to work out.”
The Knights found their stride and were led by senior forward Jen Papich with 15 points and nine rebounds. Gannon took its winning momentum up against a team that has had its number all season – Edinboro.
Junior guard Mollie Sebald said it was difficult to lose to the Fighting Scots on four different occasions.
“They are a good team and they played hard,” Sebald said. “It turned out that they were the better team this year.”
Brunelli said his team left everything out on the floor against Edinboro, and said that there wasn’t much that separated the two teams.
“I think the big thing was their shots fell at important times and ours didn’t,” Brunelli said. “The ball just didn’t go in the hoop when we needed it.”
Seniors Kelley Sundberg and Papich pulled their jerseys over their head for the last time as a Knight Saturday.
Sundberg said she hoped that her graduating class of players made the transition between coaches as smooth as possible.
“No matter what program or coach there is at Gannon, there is a standard for any Gannon women’s basketball player,” Sundberg said. “I hope we have showed the other players what that means.”
Brunelli said that he was proud of the tremendous effort and leadership put forth by his seniors.
“They finished their career very well and set the bar high,” Brunelli said. “You just don’t replace those ladies in one recruiting class; it takes time to do that.”
Sebald said the team wasn’t pleased with how the season ended, but added that the Knights also has a positive mindset going into next season.
“A lot of the team is returning and we have high expectations for next year,” Sebald said. “It’s going to take hard work to get back there.”