Season ends for Canisius in MAAC quarter-finals

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Getting 33 points from Lamont Jones and going 34-for-40 from the free-throw line, No. 4 seed Iona College defeated the No. 5 seed Canisius men’s basketball team 89-85 in the quarterfinals of the 2013 MAAC Championship at the MassMutual Center on Saturday.

Canisius drops to 18-13 on the year with the loss and will await its postseason fate next weekend.

Five Golden Griffins scored in double figures on the day, led by 24 points (17 in the second half) from junior Billy Baron. Junior Chris Manhertz had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds while senior Harold Washington had 17 points and five assists. Junior Jordan Heath added 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting while senior Alshwan Hymes had 11 points, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc, in 23 minutes off the bench.

“We knew this game was going to be a hard-fought battle. We gave up too many fouls to put them on the foul line,” Canisius coach Jim Baron said. “We made a great comeback in the second half, especially with getting the ball to Chris inside. Billy made some great plays and made some big shots.

“We have had a heck of a year.  We went plus 10 on wins in the league and beat every team. To go from five wins to 18 wins, these guys deserve all of the credit.”

Manhertz scored in the post early in the game for the Griffs, getting four of the team’s first six points. A 3-pointer from Jordan Heath put Canisius up 12-8 at the 15:24 mark. After a layup from Taaj Ridley, the Griffs scored six straight points, including a 3-pointer from Hymes and a baseline jumper from sophomore Josiah Heath, to extend the lead to 18-10. The Gaels then tied the game with eight straight points, but a putback dunk from Jordan Heath stopped the Iona run. That dunk started a 7-2 run for the Griffs, including the second 3-pointer of the half for Hymes.

Iona (18-13) used a 10-2 spurt to go up 30-27 before a 3-pointer from Washington and deep jumper from Baron gave the Griffs a two-point lead. The Griffs only made one field goal in the final five minutes of the half, as Iona went 15-for-18 from the free-throw line in the opening 20 minutes and built a 42-37 halftime lead.

Iona made six of its first nine shots to start the second half, with a three-point play from David Laury pushing the Gaels’ lead to 56-46 at the 15:31 mark. Washington jumped passing lane to create a steal that led to a runner from Baron and Manhertz drew a charge, which started to turn the momentum for the Griffs. Canisius chipped away at the lead, using a 15-6 run, capped by a dunk from Jordan Heath, to get within three at 66-63.

Iona scored six of the next seven points to extend their lead to eight before the Griffs came back with an 11-3 run to get within one. Manhertz had four points, Hymes hit a jumper, Baron drained a 3-pointer and Jordan Heath’s putback dunk made it 76-75. After two free throws from Jones, Washington hustled after a loose ball at midcourt that resulted in a jumper from Manhertz to keep it a one-point game. The Griffs got a defensive stop but Iona grabbed the offensive rebound to extend the possession. A layup from Jones gave Iona a three-point lead, and the Griffs couldn’t convert on the offensive end. Ridley’s shot on the next possession was deflected by Manhertz but found its way into the basket to put Iona up by five. The Griffs could never get closer than three the rest of the way.

Jones scored 33 points on 9-of-19 shooting, including 14-of-14 from the free-throw line. The MAAC Player of the Year scored 16 of Iona’s final 21 points. Sean Armand had 24 points on 5-of-10 from the field and 11-of-12 from the free-throw line. Laury had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds while Ridley had 13 points.

Iona shot 46.3 percent from the floor and held a 37-28 advantage on the glass, including 16-7 in the second half. Canisius shot 50.8 percent from the floor, including 11-of-23 from behind the arc, and only had seven turnovers in the game.

Notes: Canisius and Iona met in the MAAC Championship for the sixth time in program history and for the first time since the first round of the 2008 MAAC Championship… Canisius was the No. 5 seed in the tournament, its highest seed since 1999… The Griffs had earned just their second bye into the quarterfinal round of the MAAC Tournament since 2000… Saturday’s game marked the 12th time this season where the Blue and Gold had four or more players score in double figures… The Griffs tied the school record for 3-point field goals in a MAAC Tournament game with 11… Baron’s 24 points tied Harold Washington’s program record for most points scored by a Griff in their first MAAC Tournament game… Baron had 10 or more points in 10-straight games through Saturday’s loss… Manhertz’s double-double was the ninth of his career and his fifth this season…  Washington’s 17 points gives him double digits in the scoring column in 47 of his 61 career games Jones’ 33 points were the most for a Canisius opponent in the MAAC Tournament since former Rider player Jerry Johnson scored 36 on the Blue and Gold March 2, 2002… Iona’s 33 makes from the free-throw line set Canisius opponent record (for MAAC Tournament games only) and the Gaels’ 40 attempts from the stripe are the most against the Griffs in the conference tournament since Siena took 40 free-throws March 2, 1991.

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