By Paul Casey Gotham
VERMILLION, S.D. – A losing streak and travel woes behind them, the Canisius Golden Griffins might have found their stride in another time zone.
Alshwan Hymes turned in another career night, and Tomas Vazquez-Simmons registered a double-double as the Canisius Golden Griffins downed the South Dakota Coyotes 73-69 in non-conference action at the Dakota Dome.
For the second consecutive game, Hymes notched a high-water mark with 18 points. The sophomore from Dewitt, New York went 7-12 from the field including 4-7 from behind the three-point arc to lead all scorers.
Hymes connected twice from behind the arc, grabbed two rebounds as the Griffs jumped out to a 27-16 lead in the first half.
Canisius shot 48 percent (14-29) from the field before halftime including 5-10 behind the arc.
The Griffs endured a 10-0 Coyote run late in the first frame to keep a 37-29 edge at the break.
Canisius never surrendered the lead, but it was not without some trepidation.
After an 11-3 run to start the half, South Dakota stayed within one possession of the Griffs for the remainder of the contest.
Greg Logins finished a left-hand lay up in traffic and converted a free throw for a 50-47 lead with 12:00 remaining on the clock.
South Dakota responded on the next possession, but Hymes took advantage of the defense extending on him to finish a lay up. After a missed 3 attempt by South Dakota, Logins grabbed the rebound and started the break. Belardo found Vazquez-Simmons for two of his 13 points. Belardo posted a game-high six assists.
Robert Goldsberry dished out a pair of late assists to seal the game. The senior guard found Vazquez-Simmons for 67-63 lead with a minute and a half left. The Coyotes knocked down a 3, but Goldsberry found Hymes for an open jumper.
Belardo and Vazquez-Simmons iced the victory with a pair of free throws apiece. Canisius finished a perfect 9-9 from the charity stripe.
Elton Frazier added 11, Julius Coles 10, and Logins had 9.
Vazquez-Simmons corraled a game-high 10 boards to go with four assists and three blocks.
Chris Manhertz registered six rebounds in four minutes of playing time.
The Griffs held South Dakota’s leading scorer, Charlie Westbrook, to a season-low nine points.
With the win Canisius improves to 4-4. The Golden Griffins return to the Koessler Athletic Center Friday night as the St. Francis (N.Y.) Terriers come to Buffalo for their first visit since 1983.
The win ends a two-game losing streak. Canisius opened Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference play losing to Iona and Marist over the past weekend.
Canisius’s trip to South Dakota presented a variety of problems. Their first flight was delayed for de-icing. After spending four hours delayed in Chicago, the team caught a flight to Omaha before taking a two-hour bus trip to Vermillion.
Canisius made national news when Frank Turner earned his master’s degree after four years of work at the Buffalo campus. Current seniors, Julius Coles, Frazier, Goldsberry, Logins and Vazquez-Simmons all completed their four-year degrees last spring. The five seniors are in line to get their master’s by the end of the next semester.