Late rally comes up short for Canisius in loss to Manhattan

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RIVERDALE, N.Y. – Manhattan senior Emmy Andujar scored 17 of his team-high 20 points in the second half and the host Jaspers made 21 second-half free-throws to hold off a furious rally by Canisius en route to a 78-69 victory Friday night in the Draddy Gymnasium in MAAC basketball action. The win, Manhattan’s fourth straight, improved the Jaspers to 12-10 overall and 9-4 in conference play, while the Golden Griffins drooped their second straight to fall to 12-10 overall and 7-6 in league action.

Three Canisius players scored in double-figures in the loss, led by sophomore Zach Lewis, who was good for a game-high 25 points to go with five rebounds and five steals. Redshirt-freshman Kassius Robertson scored 13 points for the Blue and Gold and senior Josiah Heath recorded his third career double-double with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. As a team, Canisius shot just 31.1 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from 3-point land, but the team went 26-of-31 from the free-throw line while turning the ball over a season-high 20 times.

Despite struggling from the field, the Griffs nearly erased a 20-point second half deficit, as the Griffs got the game within four points at 73-69 with 55 seconds left to play after Robertson scored a traditional 3-point play with a driving bucket and a free-throw. On the ensuing in-bounds pass, Robertson came up with a steal, but he was unable to score on his drive to the hoop, and Canisius was forced to foul Manhattan junior Shane Richards, who drained a pair of free-throws at the Jaspers’ end of the floor to stretch the lead back to six points at 75-69 with 46 seconds to play. Manhattan forced another Canisius turnover on the Griffs’ next trip down the floor and Andujar drained two more from the stripe to help seal the victory.

Manhattan led the game 30-28 at halftime and used a 21-3 run over the first 8:25 of the second stanza to jump out to a 51-31 lead with 11:35 left on the clock. From there, Canisius battled and got Manhattan’s cushion down to 10 with 3:35 left when junior Kevin Bleeker knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing to make the score 66-56 in favor of the Jaspers. A pair of free-throws by Robertson and a driving lay-up from Lewis with 2:32 left in the contest got Canisius within five points at 67-62, but out of a Manhattan timeout, the Jaspers made four-straight at the free-throw line in the span of 11 seconds to make the score 71-64 with 1:25 left on the clock.

“I give our guys credit because the kept fighting and scrapping and gave they great effort down the stretch, but we can’t keep making mistakes and putting ourselves in such huge holes,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “We were out there using new rotations and we got to the line, but we got within four and we missed a lay-up. We have to convert on those types of plays. We just need to keep working and get better. Manhattan is a veteran team and they are really good at home. Give them credit, they came out of halftime and did what they needed to do to get out to that big lead.”

Andujar led four Jasper players in double-figures with his 20 points, and he also recorded nine rebounds and seven assists. Forward Ashton Pankey had 18 points, nine boards and three blocks for Manhattan, while Richards and Rich Williams chipped in 16 points apiece. For the game, Manhattan shot 44.4 percent from the field, 35.3 percent from 3-point land and 77.4 percent from the free-throw line, while turning 20 Griff turnovers into 24 points.

Canisius redshirt-freshman Jermaine Crumpton scored eight points before fouling out of the game, while Bleeker ended the night with six points and a career-high three blocked shots. Manhattan held a 39-38 advantage on the glass, but Canisius finished the game with an 11-8 margin in second-chance points.

The Griffs will close out their weekend road swing on Sunday when the team plays at Monmouth. The game in West Long Branch, N.J., is set for 2 p.m., and will be broadcast live on ESPN3.

Game Notes: This was the 86th all-time meeting between the two schools, with Manhattan leading the series 53-33… The Jaspers have now won four straight over the Griffs… Canisius fell to 23-6 all-time in Manhattan’s Draddy Gymnasium… Canisius’ 26 makes from the charity stripe are the most for the program since Feb. 22, 2014, against Fairfield… Lewis has now scored in double figures 30 times in his career… Friday was Lewis’ fourth game this season with 20-plus points in a game (sixth in his career)… Heath leads all active players with three career double-double efforts… In the team’s last three games, Heath is averaging 11.3 rebounds per contest… Robertson has been good for double-figures in the scoring column in four of the team’s last seven outings.

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