Canisius rallies to defeat Quinnipiac

Josiah Heath notched his fourth double-double of the season. (Photo by Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)
Josiah Heath notched his fourth double-double of the season. (Photo by Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

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HAMDEN, CONN. – Canisius scored 14 points in the game’s final 3:45, capped by a jumper from the top of the key by redshirt-freshman Kassius Robertson with 3.8 seconds left to play, to lift the Golden Griffins to a 65-63 road win at Quinnipiac in the TD Bank Sports Center Saturday afternoon. The win, Canisius’ third-straight, improves the team to 15-12 overall and 10-8 in MAAC play, while the Bobcats fell to 14-13 overall and 8-10 in conference action.

Canisius trailed 59-51 with 3:45 left to play, and out of the game’s final media timeout, senior Jeremiah Williams hit a pair of free-throws to make it 59-53. After the Griffs got a defensive stop, Williams drilled his only 3-pointer of the game from the top of the key with 3:14 left to play to make the score 59-56. Williams continued his hot scoring touch late with a bucket at the 2:39 mark to make it a one-point game at 59-58, but the Bobcats ended the Blue and Gold’s 7-0 run after senior Ousmane Drame hit a jumper from the elbow  to make the score 61-58 with 1:43 left to play.

On Canisius’ next possession, Robertson drove the ball to the bucket, made the lay-up and was fouled. The Toronto native knocked down the free-throw for a traditional 3-point play to tie the game at 61-61 with 1:30 left on the clock. Canisius took a 63-61 lead with 56.2 seconds left on the clock after Williams found a streaking Jamal Reynolds on a fast-break. That break-out was started on a blocked shot by junior Kevin Bleeker, and Williams picked the ball up near the top of the lane and raced forward for a 3-on-1 break that set-up Reynolds’ lay-in. Quinnipiac tied the game with 35.4 seconds left to play when James Ford, Jr., hit a pair of free-throws to knot the game at 63-63. The Griffs came down the floor and worked the clock down before Robertson made a hard jab-step at his defender, pulled back and hit nothing-but-net with 3.8 seconds left on the clock to give the Griffs a 65-63 lead. Quinnipiac took a timeout after Robertson’s basket, but the Bobcats’ attempt to get the length of the floor and get a shot off at the buzzer failed when senior guard Evan Conti fumbled the long in-bounds pass at midcourt and time expired.

“This is another gritty road win for us,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “We got down by eight there late and we should an awful lot of poise down the stretch. We had guys stepping up at different times, which is what we need. I thought Thursday’s win [in overtime at Siena] was a great win, but this one ranks right up there too. Our guys kept grinding and never put their heads down and we are able to leave here with a win over a pretty talented, senior-heavy team that really rebounds the basketball.”

Three Griffs scored in double figures, led by senior forward Josiah Heath, who recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Robertson had 14 points in the win for Canisius and Williams chipped in 10 points, with all 10 of those coming in the game’s second half. Reynolds was good for 10 boards in the win for the Blue and Gold, which shot 39.3 percent from the field and ended the contest with 34 points in the paint against Quinnipiac’s 22.

Drame had 20 points and seven rebounds in the loss for Quinnipiac, while Conti scored 16 points in 23 minutes off the bench. Ford Jr., added 11 for the Bobcats, who shot 43.1 percent from the floor to go with 15 turnovers against Canisius’ eight giveaways.

Canisius will return home for its final two games of the 2014-15 regular-season, starting Tuesday, Feb. 24, when the team plays host to Niagara. Game time between the Griffs and Purple Eagles is set for 8 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.

Game Notes: This was the fourth all-time meeting between these two programs, with Canisius now holding a 3-1 lead in the series… With the win, the Griffs have secured a first-round bye in the 2015 MAAC Basketball Championship Tournament… Canisius has now earned a trip to the quarterfinal round in three-straight years for the first time since 1995-97… Canisius has recorded double-digit MAAC wins in three-straight seasons for the first time since joining the league prior to the start of the 1989-90 academic year… Heath’s double-double on Saturday is the fifth in his career… By playing on Saturday, Heath tied former Griff Frank Turner for the school’s all-time lead in career games played with 125… Sophomore Zach Lewis had nine points and a game-high four assists in the win for the Blue and Gold… Robertson has been good for 10-plus points six times in the team’s last 13 contests, dating back toJan 16… Freshman Cassidy Ryan matched a career-high with 12 minutes played.

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