BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Canisius College men’s basketball team opened MAAC play with a victory for the first time since the 2009-10 season with a 67-55 win over Fairfield in the Webster Bank Arena Friday night. The Golden Griffins are now 5-1 overall and 1-0 in MAAC play, while the Stags slipped to 4-5 on the year and 0-1 in conference action. The win, which matches the team’s win total for all of last season, also snapped Canisius’ 12-game conference losing streak, which dated back to Jan. 13, 2012 when the team beat Marist at home.
Senior guard Harold Washington and junior guard Billy Baron led Canisius offensively, as each player scored 19 points in the victory. Junior center Jordan Heath had 10 points and four blocked shots in the win, while junior forward Chris Manhertz was credited with a game-high 11 rebounds. Senior Isaac Sosa and junior Reggie Groves chipped in six points apiece for the Blue and Gold in the victory, as the Griffs ended the night shooting 48.8 percent from the field, 56.3 percent from 3-point land and 76.2 percent from the free-throw line.
“This has traditionally been a tough place for this program to play, so to come on the road and get a league win here tonight is huge for us,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “I thought our guys played real hard tonight and dug in on defense. Fairfield is a good team and they are well coached. When they made that run at us midway through the second half, our guys stepped it up and dug deep on the defensive end and that was really good to see.”
Canisius led by six at the half by a score of 36-30, and the Blue and Gold started the second half with a 10-4 run over the first 2:04 of the second stanza to make it a 12-point game at 46-34 thanks to a jumper at the top of the key by Jordan Heath. Canisius’ lead remained at 12 for the better part of the game’s next seven minutes before Fairfield scored five-straight points to make the score 53-46 in favor of the Griffs with 9:48 left to play. Canisius pushed its lead back to nine points at 55-46 with 8:19 left on the clock after Jordan Heath grabbed a steal and Baron raced to the other end of the floor for a lay-up. Moments later, Fairfield forward Josip Mikulic banged home a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make the score 55-49 with 8:00 left in regulation time, but that field goal would be the Stags’ last for 6:46, as Canisius outscored Fairfield 9-1 in that time, capped by a driving lay-up from Washington that put the Griffs ahead 64-53 with 1:14 left to play.
For Fairfield, senior Derek Needham scored a team-high 11 points and dished out five assists, while freshman forward Marcus Gilbert chipped in eight points and six rebounds. The Stags shot 39.6 percent from the floor, 33.3 percent from 3-point land and 46.2 percent from the free-throw line in the loss. Canisius won he rebounding battle for the second-straight game, as the Griffs pulled down 33 boards against Fairfield’s 31.
Canisius will close out its first weekend of MAAC play on Sunday, Dec. 9, when the team travels to play at Marist. Tipoff in the McCann Arena is set for 2 p.m.
Game Notes: Friday’s game was the 74th all-time meeting between Canisius and Fairfield, and the Stags lead the series 43-31… The win by Canisius ended the program’s nine-game losing streak to the Stags, which dated back to Jan. 11, 2009… The win was also the program’s first over Fairfield in the Webster Bank Arena since Jan. 7, 2006… The Griffs are off to their first 5-1 start since the 1974-75 campaign… Washington and Baron have scored in double figures in all six games this season and Jordan Heath has now scored 10-plus points in four-straight games… Manhertz has had 10 or more rebounds in each of the team’s last two games and in five career games against Fairfield, he’s averaging 8.2 rebounds per game… Canisius matched a season-high with nine makes from behind the 3-point line… The team also had nine makes from long-range in the season-opener at home against Boston University… Senior Alshwan Hymes played in his 90th career game as a Griff and scored three points to go with two steals… He now has 181 career makes from 3-point land, leaving him 19 shy of becoming the second player in Canisius history to hit 200 treys in his career… Groves led Canisius with three assists, the 14th time in his career where he’s led the team in assists for a game.