Late heroics leads Canisius to 72-70 road win

Canisius freshman Malik Johnson raced the length of the floor and scored the game-winning basket with 0.1 seconds left on the clock to help lift the Golden Griffins to a thrilling 72-70 road win at Saint Peter’s Monday night. (Photo Courtesy:

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JERSEY CITY, N.Y. – Canisius freshman Malik Johnson raced the length of the floor and scored the game-winning basket with 0.1 seconds left on the clock to help lift the Golden Griffins to a thrilling 72-70 road win at Saint Peter’s Monday night in the Yanitelli Center. The win, Canisius’ second straight, moves the team to 15-10 overall and 8-6 in MAAC action while the Peacocks fell to 12-12 overall and 8-6 in conference action with their third-straight loss.

With the game tied at 70-70 with 5.5 seconds left, Johnson inbounded the ball from under Saint Peter’s basket to junior Jermaine Crumpton, who immediately flipped the ball back to the speedy 5-foot-10 guard from Richmond, Virginia. Johnson took the ball 75-feet from the Griffs’ hoop and sprinted down the floor and laid the ball over the iron with 0.1 left on the clock to give Canisius the lead for good. Johnson’s game-winner helped cap Canisius’ wild comeback, which saw the Blue and Gold trailing by as many as seven points with 7:30 left on the clock.

In a game that featured 12 lead changes and eight ties, Canisius took a 68-65 lead with 36 seconds left to play after senior Phil Valenti scored off an assist from Johnson. Saint Peter’s cut the Griffs’ cushion to 68-67 moments later, and the Peacocks fouled Canisius to stop the clock with 17 ticks remaining. The Griffs missed the front-end of a one-and-one chance at their end of the floor, but Johnson was able to come up with a steal on the sideline with eight seconds left to play. Johnson was immediately fouled and hit two free-throws to give Canisius a 70-67 lead.

On the ensuing possession, Saint Peter’s senior guard Trevis Wyche earned three free-throws as he was fouled in the act of shooting a 3-point try with 5.5 seconds left to play in regulation. Wyche tied the game by making all three charity tosses, setting up Johnson’s coast-to-coast drive. The win for Canisius was the team’s ninth road win of the season, which leads the MAAC.

Senior Kiefer Douse scored a career-high 22 points in the win for Canisius, and he also added four rebounds, four assists and three steals in 33 minutes of action. Johnson scored a career-high 11 points and dished out seven assists against no turnovers in 34 minutes, while junior Kassius Robertson added 15 points, two assists and three steals. Robertson, the MAAC’s leader in 3-point field goals per game, knocked down three triples for the Blue and Gold in the win, as Canisius ended the night shooting 46 percent from the field, including a 55.6 percent clip in the game’s second half.

Wyche had 17 points and five assists in the loss for Saint Peter’s, which ended the night shooting 54.9 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from 3-point land. Nick Griffin and Samuel Idowu chipped in 11 points apiece for Saint Peter’s.

Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Postgame Comments
“We work on late-game situations in practice a lot. The guys knew we didn’t have any time outs, so they had to get it up the floor quickly. Malik did a great job catching the ball in full-stride and he saw an opening. He did a heck of a job getting the ball up to the rim.”

“We knew coming in that this was going to be a battle. Saint Peter’s is a really well coached team and you know coming in that they’re going to guard you and play hard for 40 minutes. I think our ability to move the ball side-to-side tonight was really important because it opened up some lanes for us to get guys like Kiefer to drive to the basket.”

“Kiefer is a veteran guy, and he’s playing with some confidence in his game right now. He brings in a lot of experience and that’s what helps you win close games this time of year.”

Inside the Box Score
• Saint Peter’s ended the night with 35-22 advantage on the glass.
• Saint Peter’s, which came into the game with the lowest turnover per game average in the MAAC, gave the ball away 21 times. Canisius ended the night scoring 32 points off those 21 miscues.
• The two teams combined to go 10-for-12 from the free-throw line in the game, with both teams hitting on five of their six charity tosses.

Game Notes
• This was the 76th all-time meeting between the two Jesuit schools, with Canisius holding a 43-33 lead in the series.
• Canisius, which trailed by as many as nine points late in the first half, has won 11 games this season when trailing by at least five points, and in five of those victories, the Blue and Gold were down by eight-or more points.
• The Griffs are now 5-3 on the year in games decided by five points or less.
• Douse, who started the night ranked seventh in the MAAC in field goal percentage, went 9-for-14 from the floor while setting a career-high with four makes from 3-point land.
• In the last four games, Johnson has dished out 26 assists against four turnovers.
• Robertson now has 192 career 3-point field goals after hitting three treys on Monday.
• Senior Phil Valenti led Canisius with six rebounds, the 31st time in his career where he’s led the team in rebounding. He now has 589 career boards in a Canisius uniform.

Up Next
Canisius will play host to long-time rival Niagara on Friday, Feb. 10, with game time set for 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and the audio call will be on Timeless WECK 1230-AM and 102.9-FM in Buffalo and the Golden Griffin Broadcast Network.

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