CALIFORNIA — California University of Pa. hosted Gannon in a PSAC basketball doubleheader Monday and it ended with mixed results.
The Cal men dominated from the opening tip en route to an 80-59 win that left Vulcans head coach Danny Sancomb pleased.
“This was a really good performance for us, and we started the game really well,” he said. “We played great offense in the first half and had 12 assists on 16 field goals, was a plus eight (on assists) and a plus-10 on the glass.
“The last 14 minutes of the first half, our defense was the difference in the game.”
The Vulcans (6-3, 12-4) shot 51.6 percent (16-for-31) in the first half and took a 45-23 lead into the break. They finished at 50 percent for the game.
All five starters scored in double figures, with Philip Alston leading the way with 18 points. Preston Boswell had 16 and the trio of Zyan Collins, Brent Pegram and Keith Palek each had 12.
“That’s how I like it,” Sancomb said of the balanced scoring. “Our shot distribution was good and when we shoot like we did we are hard to guard.”
Alston finished with 10 rebounds to record his 10th double-double of the season while Collins and Boswell each had six assists and Pegram added five.
Cal’s defense limited Gannon (5-4, 8-5) to 38.6 percent shooting with Lance-Amir Paul leading the way for the Golden Knights with a game-high 24 points.
According to Sancomb, the team carried over the momentum from Saturday’s 87-71 win at 11th-ranked Mercyhurst.
“We clicked on all cylinders and played well Saturday and carried it over,” he said. “Gannon is a great team and one of the best defensive teams in the league. We were able to score on them today and that is good, and our rebounding was great.”
Cal held a 42-30 rebounding advantage.
The Vulcans return to action Wednesday against Seton Hill.
In the opener, the Cal women struggled from the field, and despite a valiant fourth-quarter comeback attempt, they lost 61-54 to 19th-ranked Gannon.
“I am proud for how we fought back after getting down early, but you can’t win games shooting the way we shot,” said Cal coach Jess Strom. “We shot 26 more times than them and we had 19 offensive rebounds.
“If you look at the stat sheet, we should have won the game, but if you don’t put the ball in the hoop, you will lose.”
The Vulcans (4-3, 9-3) shot 28.4 percent (21-for-74) while Gannon (8-2, 13-2) shot 35.4 percent. The difference in the game was at the free-throw line as Cal was called for 24 fouls, twice as many as Gannon. The Vulcans made eight of their 10 free-throw attempts but Gannon made 24 of 28.
Cal led 14-13 after the first quarter, but it struggled to score in the second and third quarters. Gannon outscored Cal 16-8 in the second to take a 29-22 lead into the half and its 13-9 advantage in the third gave the Golden Knights a 42-31 lead heading into the fourth.
The Vulcans fought back and cut the Gannon lead to 50-46 with 3:31 to go on a Shauna Harrison putback but they would get no closer.
Dejah Terrell dominated inside for Cal as the 6-1 junior had 19 points and 19 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough.
“She could do that every game,” Strom said. “She is huge for us, and I think sometimes we try to force it into her a little too much.”
Ciaira Loyd added 12 points for Cal while Samantha Pirosko led three Gannon players in double figures with 15 points.
The Vulcans are right back in action Wednesday as it hosts Seton Hill, the PSAC West leader.
“We have a quick turnaround and I told them we have one day to prepare for Seton Hill,” Strom said. “They are first in our conference and the next five weeks, we don’t get a break at all.
“We have to have a quick memory and the girls will be getting a lot of shots up at practice (Tuesday).”