By Paul Gotham
BUFFALO, NY – Harold Washington led four in double figures as the Canisius Golden Griffins defeated the Elon Phoenix, 69-53 in the opening round of the College Insider Tournament at the Koessler Athletic Center, Wednesday night.
Washington scored six of his ten second-half points as Canisius outscored Elon 19-11 in the opening moments of the second half and never looked back. Washington finished a pair of drives in traffic to open the second stanza.
“I felt like early on I was doing a good job of getting to the rim,” Washington stated. “At first it was some tough looks, but I felt like I showed some patience and still attacked and things would open up. It did. People started getting open shots. That mentality helped overall.”
The Griffs put the game out reach with five straight midway through the second half.
Jordan Heath hit one-of-two from the free throw line. Washington used an upfake to get his defender in the air before going off the dribble to get to the basket for two. Chris Manhertz capped the spurt with a jump hook in the lane, and Canisius had their largest lead of the game, 59-40.
“This is really special,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said of the win. “It’s special for the upperclassmen…It’s special because these guys put it in. They put it up, and they put it in. They continue to work.”
The Griffs defense limited Elon to just 20-of-68 (29.4 percent) shooting from the floor.
“Our defense really pulled it together in the second half,” Baron added.
The Griffs created 19 turnovers while the Phoenix had just 15 assists.
“We wanted to make them turn it over,” Baron continued. “I thought we did a great job of creating 19 turnovers. I’ve always been a big believer of [playing] up-tempo.”
Canisius held the Elon bench to zero points.
“Switching it up defensively threw them off,” Washington noted. “It’s like a chess match. I think that’s one of the thing that helped us stretch out our lead tonight, our defense. We really locked in.”
Isaac Sosa capped an 8-0 run to close the first half as the Griffs took a 35-23 lead into the break. Washington started the Blue and Gold with a three-pointer in transition when Billy Baron found him open in the left corner.
After Chris Manhertz slapped a Ryley Beaumont attempt off the glass, Baron grabbed the loose ball and went the length of the floor for a layup.
One possession later, Baron found Sosa open on the right wing for the halftime count.
Jack Isenbarger connected on back-to-back trips from behind the arc giving the Phoenix its first lead of the game at 13-12.
The Golden Griffins responded with a 13-5 run.
Josiah Heath connected with a free throw line jumper. Washington drove from the left wing and scored on a circus scoop shot. Manhertz took a Jordan Heath high-low lead and used a drop step to give Canisius the lead back at 18-17.
Washington stole the ensuing inbound and scored forcing an Elon timeout.
Jordan Heath stretched the lead to seven at 25-18 with a catch-and-shoot three.
Washington and Sosa sandwiched a Billy Baron end-to-end layup with threes for the 35-23 halftime score.
Washington scored 19 on seven-of-ten shooting and four-of-five from the free throw line.
Jordan Heath added 13. Sosa chipped in 11, and Billy Baron had 10. Baron had a game-high seven assists.
Manhertz led the Griffs with nine rebounds.
Ryley Beaumont notched a double-double for Elon with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Isenbarger added 13.
Canisius will know in the morning their second-round opponent.