Canisius advances in the CIT by beating Dartmouth

Photo by Johnathan Snyder/WNY Big 4 Talk
Photo by Johnathan Snyder/WNY Big 4 Talk

Courtesy of GoGriffs.com

Buffalo, N.Y. — Canisius junior guard Jamal Reynolds scored a career-high 22 points and four other Golden Griffins recorded double-digits in the scoring column on Wednesday night as the Canisius defeated Dartmouth 87-72 in the first round of the 2015 CollegeInsiders.com Postseason Tournament in the Koessler Athletic Center.

With the win, the Griffs improved to 17-14 on the season, and the team will next travel to play at Bowling Green on Saturday, March 21, with tipoff set for 1 p.m. Dartmouth, which entered the game on a six-game winning streak, saw it season end with a 14-15 record.

Reynolds scored his game-high 22 points after he went 5-for-7 from the field and 12-for-13 from the free-throw line. He also pulled down a game-high 1 rebounds for his third double-double of the season, and his six assists were both a career and game-high for the Pickering, Ontario native. Sophomore Zach Lewis scored 20 points, while senior Josiah Heath added 14 points, eight boards, two steals and two blocked shots. Senior Jeremiah Williams chipped in 12 points, four rebounds and three assists with redshirt-freshman Kassius Robertsonposting 13 points off the bench for the Griffs, who shot a season-high 52.7 percent from the field and ended the night by making 84 percent (21-for-25) of their tries at the free-throw line.

“We were excited that we got an invitation to this event and our guys came ready to play tonight,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “Our game plan was to be aggressive. We practiced and prepared that way all week leading up to this and that is the way we played tonight. Five guys in double-figures, 16 assists on 29 field goals, that’s really sharing the basketball. This was a great team-effort. We were picked 10th in the league, finished fifth, and now we are the last MAAC team still playing games. That’s pretty phenomenal for such a young group if you think about it.”

The game was tight through the first 15-plus minutes, but Canisius ended the first half on a 15-3 run over the final 3:39 before halftime to take a 38-26 lead into the locker room at intermission. During that run, Reynolds accounted for four Canisius points and Robertson added the team’s final six before the break

In the second half, Canisius led by 13 points at 44-31, but a 10-2 run over the span of 1:58 stretched the Griffs’ cushion to 54-33 with 14:18 left on the clock. In that run, Lewis accounted for nine of the team’s 10 points as the Blue and Gold took a 21-point advantage, its largest of the night. The Big Green was able to whittled the Griffs’ hold down to 10 points a few times in the second stanza, but only one time could Dartmouth cut Canisius’ led to single-digits, which came with 1:03 left on the clock after a Taylor Johnson 3-pointer made the score 81-72 in favor of the home team. However, Canisius closed the door on any late-game heroics, as the Blue and Gold scored the game’s final six points to seal the win, the team’s third victory all-time in the CIT.

Dartmouth senior Gabas Maldunas scored 15 points to go with six rebounds and a blocked shot in the loss for the Big Green, while junior Alex Mitola added 15 points and three assists. Mitola joined the 1,000-point club at Dartmouth midway through the first half with a 3-point field goal from the right corner. The Big Green shot 42.2 percent from the floor in the loss and ended the night shooting just 27.3 percent from 3-point land and 64.3 percent from the free-throw line.

Game Notes: This was the sixth all-time meeting between Canisius and Dartmouth in men’s basketball, with the series now tied at 3-3… Canisius and Dartmouth met for the first time since Dec. 27, 1968… The Griffs are now 2-0 all-time against the Big Green in national postseason games, having won Wednesday night’s CIT game and the 1956 NCAA Tournament East Region second-round match-up as well… The 87 points are a season-high for Canisius… Canisius is now 3-2 all-time in the CIT… Reynolds now has two double-doubles in the team’s last three games, dating back to Feb. 27… In the team’s last four contests, Reynolds is averaging 13 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest… Lewis made his 50th consecutive start for the program and he has now scored 20-plus points in seven games in his career… Lewis’ four makes from 3-point land gives him 73 triples this season, which ranks fifth on the school’s single-season 3-point field goals chart… The win in the CIT for Baron gives him 11 national postseason coaching victories in his 28-year career, and he joins with former Canisius head coach Joseph Curran as the only two coaches in school history to win national postseason games in three-straight years.

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