Courtesy of GoGriffs.com
PITTSBURGH – Canisius senior Phil Valenti hit a jumper from just inside the free-throw line with 1.6 seconds left, and the Golden Griffins’ defense got one last late stop, as the Blue and Gold went on the road and defeated Duquesne 78-77 Friday night in the Palumbo Center. The victory, Canisius’ first of the season, is also the program’s first under new head coach Reggie Witherspoon.
The game’s last 14 seconds were a wild affair with each team scoring a bucket before Valenti hit the floater to seal the win for the Griffs. Canisius took a 76-75 lead with 14 ticks left on the clock when Valenti grabbed an offensive rebound and laid one over the rim. The Dukes (2-2) answered seconds later when freshman Isiaha Mike hit a base-line jumper with nine seconds left that put the Dukes up 77-76. Canisius, which had one timeout left, chose to push the ball up the floor in an effort to score in transition.
And score in transition is exactly what Canisius did. Freshman Isaiah Reese dribbled toward the center of the floor from the wing and dished the ball to Valenti, who let go a floater from just inside the free-throw line for the game-winner. After the officials put some time back on the clock, Duquesne’s long throw-in pass was deflected, and the final horn sounded with Canisius earning the win, the program’s first non-conference road victory in exactly two years.
Canisius led 43-41 at the break, but the Dukes would eventually lead by as many as eight points midway through the second half thanks to an 11-3 run that made the score 61-53 with 12:04 left to play. Canisius turned up the defense from there, and allowed Duquesne to make just two field goals in the game’s final 12:04.
Junior Jermaine Crumpton ended the night with a game-high 18 points for Canisius, and he was also credited with seven rebounds. Valenti scored 14 points to go with four boards and four assists and junior Kassius Robertson added 13 points to the winning effort. Nine of the 11 Canisius players that saw time in the game had at least two points, as the Griffs ended the night by shooting 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3-point land and 91.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Duquesne’s Tarin Smith and Emile Blackman each scored 18 points in the loss for the Dukes, while Mike added 17 points and seven boards. Duquesne shot 48.1 percent from the field, but just 23.5 percent from 3-point range and 65.6 percent (21-for-32) from the charity stripe.
Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Postgame Comments
“This was a really good win for us. This was a hard-fought game throughout. It was physical and it was one of those games where we needed a lot of contributions from a lot of guys. We got that tonight, which is great to see.”
“I thought we played really well in the first half, but we lost our focus a bit and they were able to get back at us. We didn’t hang our heads, we just kept working. We got back in the game thanks to our defensive effort, for sure. Like when you’re on offense, you need to have some confidence when you’re on defense. You can’t be timid. Guys were locked in and discipline and they got some validation for their hard work.”
“There’s still some things we need to clean up – we turned it over a too much, and we need to learn better positioning when boxing out, but we just kept going. I thought we played well in pockets in our two previous games, so a win like this tonight is a good feeling for sure.”
Inside the Box Score
• Canisius was credited with 24 assists on 27 made field goals. The Griffs’ first 22 baskets all came off assists.
• Duquesne out-rebounded Canisius by 33-28 clip. Duquesne big man Darius Lewis was credited with a game-high 11 rebounds in the loss for the Dukes.
• Canisius was able to turn 13 Duquesne turnovers into 19 points, and the Griffs’ bench outscored Duquesne’s reserves 21-9 for the contest.
• The 13 made 3-point field goals by Canisius marks the 43rd time the team has hit 10-or more 3-pointers in a game since the start of the 2012-13 season.
• This was the 16th time Canisius and Duquesne played, with the Dukes leading the all-time series 10-6. The win snapped Duquesne’s two-game winning streak in the series, which dated back to the 1999-00 season.
• Prior to Friday’s win, the last Canisius road non-league win was Nov. 18, 2014 – a 63-51 win at Lehigh.
• The win for Canisius also snapped Duquesne’s 11-game home non-conference winning streak, which dated back to Dec. 28, 2014.
• The one-point win is Canisius’ first since Dec. 18, 2014 when the Blue and Gold defeated Stony Brook 60-59 in overtime at home.
• Sophomore Chris Atkinson matched his career-high with five assists in the win for Canisius.
• Valenti extended his streak of scoring in double-figures to 10-straight games, dating back to last season.
• Freshman Spencer Foley came off the bench and scored a career-high six points while also earning his first career blocked shot.
After playing three straight on the road to start the year, the Griffs will open the home portion of the 2016-17 slate on Monday, Nov. 21, when the Blue and Gold hosts UT Martin in the final game of the Bluegrass Showcase. Tipoff in the Koessler Athletic Center is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.