By Paul Casey Gotham
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Canisius Golden Griffins wanted to prove a point to no one else but themselves on Friday night. With a chance to avenge an earlier season loss, the Golden Griffins checked to see how far they have come in the last two months.
Julius Coles and Greg Logins led five players in double figures as the Canisius Golden Griffins downed the Marist Red Foxes 75-60 in Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference action at the Koessler Athletic Center.
Coles scored 13 of his team-high 18 after the break including 7-of-8 from the free throw line to help the Griffins salt away the third victory in a row at the KAC.
“When we came into the locker room at the end of the first half, a couple of my teammates said that that was the most passive they have seen me be this season,” Coles commented. “They told me to just look to attack and be more aggressive.”
The senior guard hit 3-of-6 from the field after the break.
Gaby Belardo put bookends on the first half connecting from behind the arc to open and close the stanza. In between, the Golden Griffins established a balanced attack hitting six more from long range en route to a 48-27 lead at the break.
On the game’s opening possession, Belardo took an inside-out pass from Elton Frazier on the left block, and the Griffs were off and running.
After a Marist free throw, Greg Logins finished a jump hook from the right side of the lane, and Canisius led five to one.
Belardo found Frazier slipping along the baseline with an alley oop — Canisius 7-3.
Alshwan Hymes caught the ball outside the arc, drove and finished in traffic with his left hand for the six-point edge.
“I thought we got the ball inside early and often,” head coach Tom Parrotta explained. “That was a goal. We didn’t want to settle for jumpers, but there were some open looks there that you almost have to take.”
Hymes hit three from behind the arc and dished out three assists as Canisius ended the half on a 28-11 run.
The sophomore connected from the right side with little more than seven minutes remaining.
Then Logins and Frazier combined on a high-low pass, and Frazier finished from the left side of the basket.
Hymes fed Logins at the left elbow, and the senior forward hit a quick catch and face jumper.
“I think getting the ball to the free throw line within their zone, that was good,” Parrotta added. “Greg stepped in there and made shots. Elton made shots from there, and then these guys (Coles and Hymes) were stretching it from deep.”
One trip later, Hymes led Coles at the top of the key for a three, and Canisius led 32-21.
The pair traded roles the next time down the floor, and Hymes nailed a three from 25 feet.
“I was getting the ball in the post early,” Hymes noted. “It helped me to be able to get open shots because they had to worry about our post game.”
After a basket interference call on Marist, Frazier set up Hymes with a catch and step-back three.
The Griffs hit 66.7 percent from the field in the first half including 8-of-16 from behind the arc. Canisius handed out 17 assists in the first 20 minutes finishing with 21 for the game while committing just five turnovers.
“Any time you have 21 assists and five turnovers, and you use Canisius in the same sentence, that’s a good thing,” Parrotta noted. “We’ve never been able to do things like that.”
The coach referred to the team’s discussion prior to the game.
“I put up two dates. I put up December fifth, and I put up February fourth. I asked them what they wanted to do tonight because that was the first time we got our bell rung down there in Poughkeepsie. I had to say little after that. They took it upon themselves and really play well.”
Hymes finished with 14. Frazier added 12, and Belardo had 10. Belardo and Hymes each dished out six assists.
Logins grabbed five rebounds and now has 700 for his career.
The five Griffs in double figures was the first time a Canisius team accomplished that since November 2008 when Canisius defeated St. Bonaventure 68-66. Logins had 12 that night with Frazier getting 11 and Coles had 10. Frank Turner led with 15. Chris Gadley chipped in 13.
On December fourth, Marist hit 28-of-42 from the free throw line to defeat Canisius 74-64. Canisius has won six of the last seven games between the teams.
Canisius is 6-2 when scoring 70 or more points.
The victory over-shadowed a career night for Marist’s Candon Rusin, The sophomore hit a career-high six treys and 22 points for the Red Foxes. Originally from Vermont, Rusin played AAU basketball with Hymes for the Albany City Rocks.
Marist falls to 3-and-9 in MAAC play and 4-and-20 overall.
The Griffs improve to 11-11 and 5-7. Canisius hosts second-place St. Peter’s on Sunday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.