Canisius earns home win over Quinnipiac

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Canisius redshirt-freshman Kassius Robertsonscored a game-high 16 points, with 11 of those coming in the game’s final 20 minutes, while sophomore Zach Lewis added 12 points, three rebounds and three assists as the host Golden Griffins defeated Quinnipiac 63-57 Friday night in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action in the Koessler Athletic Center. The win, Canisius’ fourth in its last five outings, improved the team to 12-8 overall and 7-4 in MAAC play, while the Bobcats saw their three-game winning streak come to an end with the loss. Quinnipiac is now 11-9 overall and 5-6 in league action.

Robertson ended the night going 6-for-10 from the field and 4-for-6 from the free-throw line while recording three rebounds and an assist. For the Toronto native, it marks the third time in the team’s last four games where he’s registered his career high in the scoring column. Redshirt-freshman Jermaine Crumpton posted nine points and three boards in 24 minutes off the bench, while freshman Jan Grzelinski chipped in seven points, a game-high five assists and a steal for the Blue and Gold, which shot just 35.8 percent from the floor, 15.8 percent from 3-point land and 66.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Quinnipiac senior Ousmane Drame had a double-double in the losing effort for the Bobcats as he posted 20 points and 11 rebounds. Fellow senior Zaid Hearst added 19 points and five rebounds and Justin Harris was good for seven points for Quinnipiac, which shot 33.3 percent from the field, 13.3 percent from 3-point land and 86.7 percent from the charity stripe.

At the 17:21 mark of the second half, Canisius sophomore Phil Valenti went down in severe pain after a right ankle joint injury. He was carted off the floor and transported to a local hospital for an X-ray. The X-ray came back negative, and he was released from the hospital Friday night. Before leaving the game, Valenti scored seven points and he also had a rebound, a blocked shot and a steal in 17 minutes of action.

“It’s a tough one, Phil play so hard, to see him go down was tough, but I thought our guys really rallied for him,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “Crump stepped up, Kassius Robertson stepped up and Jan stepped up. This is a great team victory. [Quinnipiac] is a good team. We did a good job of sharing the basketball. We pushed the ball tonight. I told our guys, we need to keep attacking the bucket. We had 16 offensive rebounds, which was crucial and we had guys step up and make the extra pass.”

Canisius led 33-25 at the break after holding Quinnipiac to 29.6 percent shooting from the floor in the game’s first 20 minutes. In the second half, the Bobcats battled back and trailed by four at 41-37 with 10:37 left to play after Drame hit one of two free-throws. From there, Roberston took over the Griffs’ offense, as he scored the team’s next eight points in a spurt that put the Blue and Gold up 49-41 with 7:35 left to play. Canisius’ lead hovered around seven points down the stretch before Drame converted a traditional 3-point play with 28 seconds left to play to make the score 59-55 in favor of the Griffs. Canisius was able to seal the win by converting on 4-fo-6 free-throws in the game’s final 25 seconds.

Canisius out scored Quinnipiac 34-30 in the paint and the Griffs ended the night holding a 12-0 advantage on fast-break points. Canisius was also able to turn 14 Bobcat turnovers into 16 points in the victory, while the Blue and Gold turned the ball over a season-low five times.

The Griffs will return to action Sunday, Feb. 1, when the team hosts Marist in the Koessler Athletic Center. Game time is set for 2 p.m.

Game Notes: This was the third all-time meeting between these two programs, with Canisius now holding a 2-1 lead in the series… Canisius has held 12 opponents to 60-points or fewer this season, with six of those teams being MAAC rivals… Lewis has now scored in double figures 14 times this season and 28 times in his career… Grzelinski boasts a 1.96 assist-to-turnover ratio, and in the last five games, his assist-to-turnover ratio is 4.5… Robertson is averaging 9.2 points per game in the team’s last six contests… Senior Jeremiah Williams had a team-high two steals in the win, his sixth career multi-steal game (all this season).

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