Courtesy of GoGriffs.com
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Despite 25 points from freshman Takal Molson and 20 points from sophomore guard Isaiah Reese, the Canisius men’s basketball team was not able to overcome a late surge by Buffalo, as the host Bulls scored an 80-75 victory over the Golden Griffins Saturday afternoon in Alumni Arena. The Bulls, which have now beaten Canisius in three of the last four meetings between the cross-town rivals, is 1-0 to start the season, while the Griffs open the 114th season in program history with an 0-1 mark.
Molson’s 25 points on Saturday are a new Canisius record for points scored by a true freshman in his debut with the program. The previous record was held by Canisius Hall of Famer Darrell Barley, who scored 17 points in a loss at Duke on Dec. 1, 1992. Molson ended the contest shooting 9-for-13 from the field, 3-for-5 from 3-point land and 4-for-5 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed four rebounds to go with three assists, a steal and a blocked shot.
Reese scored 17 of his 20 points in the game’s second half, and he was also credited with five rebounds and two steals in his second career start. Senior Jermaine Crumpton added nine points, seven boards and a career-high three blocks to the losing effort, while sophomore guard Malik Johnson was good for eight points, four assists and three rebounds for the Blue and Gold. As a team, Canisius shot 48.1 percent from the floor, 38.1 percent from 3-point land and 89.5 percent from the charity stripe, while dishing out 13 assists on 25 makes for the contest.
Buffalo’s Nick Perkins scored a career-high 26 points in the win for the Bulls to lead three players in double-figures. Davonta Jordan came off the bench to chip in 16 points to go along with eight rebounds, and Jeremy Harris added 15 points to the winning cause, as Buffalo ended the game with a 42-32 advantage on the glass, highlighted by a 21-7 advantage in offensive rebounds.
Canisius led by five at 73-68 with 4:09 left to play, but UB battled back to tie the game at 73-73 thanks to a 5-0 run over the game’s next 39 seconds. Molson gave Canisius its final lead of the day at 74-73 with 1:14 left on the clock after he made one of two free-throw tosses, but back-to-back layups by Perkins and Jordan put the Bulls ahead for good at 77-74 with 35 ticks left on the game clock. Down the stretch, Canisius turned the ball over twice, and the Bulls hit three of four chances at the free-throw line to seal the victory.
Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Postgame Comments
“I thought we got a great effort from everyone today. This was a great way to start the college basketball season. Unfortunately, we made some mistakes at critical points late in the game and it got away from us. We stress that we need to focus on the little things and pay attention to details. Those are the things that separate teams from wins and losses. We have a lot of guys who were playing serious minutes today for the first time, and they’ve now experienced first-hand how important those little things are to winning.”
• This was the 50th all-time meeting between the two cross-town rivals. Canisius leads the series 32-18.
• Saturday marked the eighth time to two rival schools opened the season against one-another. In those eight games, the Griffs are 5-3, and the last four season-openers between the rivals have been decided by five points or less.
• Molson’s 25 points and Reese’s 20 points give Canisius a pair of scorers with 20-or more points in a game for the first time since Feb. 10, 2017 when the Griffs lost to Niagara at home.
• Molson’s 25 points also stand as the most for a Canisius freshman in any game since former Griff Zach Lewis had 25 points against Monmouth Jan. 12, 2014.
• Saturday’s loss is just Canisius’ second when leading with 5:00 or less in a game, dating back to the start of the 2013-14 season. Canisius entered Saturday’s game with a 54-1 mark when leading with 5:00 left to play in regulation time.
• Molson and fellow freshman Jalanni White both made their first career starts on Saturday. This marks the first time two true Canisius freshmen have started the season opener for the Blue and Gold since former Griffs Elton Frazier and Rishawn Johnson were in the starting line-up Nov. 13, 2007 against Colgate.
• Six different Griffs played their first game with the program on Saturday.
Canisius will travel to play at Air Force on Tuesday, Nov. 14. Game time in Colorado Springs, Colo., is set for 7 p.m. The meeting with the Falcons, the first in program history, is part of the Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase.