Canisius battles to 77-76 win over Rider

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Four Canisius players scored in double-figures, but a late defensive stand by the Blue and Gold at the buzzer proved to be the play of the game, as the Golden Griffins posted a 77-76 win over Rider University Friday afternoon in the Koessler Athletic Center. The win, Canisius’ third straight, improves the team to 7-7 overall and 1-0 in MAAC play, while the Broncs slipped to 7-6 on the year and 0-1 in conference action.


Canisius junior guard Jonathan Sanks put the Griffs ahead for good with 39 seconds left to play in the game after he made the first of two free-throws. Canisius was able to grab the offensive rebound off Sanks’ miss, but the Griffs came up empty, allowing Rider to push the length of the floor with time winding down. Sophomore Malik Johnson knocked the ball away from a Rider player with 2.4 seconds left on the clock, setting up the Broncs’ last-second chance to score a come-from-behind victory. However, junior Anthony Durham’s baseline jumper as the final horn sounded banged off the side of the rim, and the Griffs ended up extending their streak of winning MAAC-openers to six straight, dating back to 2012-13.


Senior Jermaine Crumpton scored a game-high 20 points in the win for Canisius, while freshman Takal Molson recorded his first career double-double effort with 18 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Sophomore Isaiah Reese was good for 15 points, a game-high eight assists, six boards and two steals, while Sanks matched a career-high with 12 points in 13 minutes of action off the bench. For the game, Canisius shot 44.4 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from 3-point land and the Blue and Gold finished with 20 assists on 28 makes from the field.


For Rider, redshirt-freshman Frederick Scott led the Broncs with a team-high 19 points, and he also grabbed a game-high 12 boards in the losing cause. Fellow redshirt-freshman Dimencio Vaughn was good for 16 points, six rebounds and three steals and sophomore guard Stevie Jordan added 10 points and seven assists for Rider, which shot 45.8 percent from the floor, just 28.6 percent from 3-point land and 58.1 percent from the free-throw line.


Canisius led 58-50 with 14:31 left to play thanks to a traditional 3-point play by Reese, but Rider battled back with a 14-0 run over the next 4:00 to take a 64-58 lead with 10:11 left to play. The Griffs got the game tied at 68-68 with 6:28 left to play thanks to a pair of 3-point field goals by Sanks, and down the stretch, neither team led by more than two, as the score went back and forth in the closing 4:00.


A traditional 3-point play by Crumpton with 1:23 left to play put Canisius ahead 76-74, but Rider tied the game right back up at 76-76 with 1:06showing on the clock after Vaughn made a pair of free-throws. Canisius took the lead for good moments later when Sanks made the first of his two charity tosses, and the Griffs got two defensive stops to secure the victory.


Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Postgame Comments
“In the first half, we were up 10 at one points, but we just could not break Rider’s spirits. We knew coming in this was going to be a 12-round fight, because we’ve watched them on tape against teams like Providence and Penn State and they just don’t go away.”


“In the second half, we got into a lull offensively, and their zone really forced us to struggle. But tonight, we didn’t lose our poise. We talk a lot about needing to sustain our focus, and we did. That’s not always easy to do, and we’ve had some games this year where we got into a lull and we just ended up unraveling. Tonight, we came right back at them and we kept fighting. We were able to overcome some adversity and get a win, and that’s good to see from a young team playing together in their first league game.”


Game Notes
• This was the 47th all-time meeting between the two schools, with Rider holding a 34-13 lead in the series.
Friday’s game marked the 15th time in series history where the final score was decided by five points or less. Rider leads that portion of the series 11-4.
• Canisius held Rider’s Jordan Allen, the Broncs’ top scoring threat, to a season-low four points.
• For Crumpton, Friday marked his fifth game with 20-or more points this season. He has scored in double-figures in 10-straight games.
• Reese’s eight assists gives him multiple assists in 12 of the team’s 14 games to date. He also extended his streak of games with multiple steals to six.
• Molson is the second Griff this season to record 10-or more rebounds in a game. Reese had 11 rebounds in the team’s home win over Youngstown State back on Nov. 18.
• Johnson now has five or more assists in 24 of his first 48 games in a Canisius uniform.
• Sanks scored 12 points two times previously during his time at Georgia Southern in 2015-16. The last time he had 12 points in a game prior to Friday was Feb. 20, 2016 against Arkansas Little Rock.


Up Next
The Griffs will close out their first weekend of MAAC play on Sunday, Dec. 31 when the team hosts defending MAAC champion Iona in the Koessler Athletic Center. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3, and the men’s radio call available on Buffalo’s WECK 1230-AM and 102.9-FM, and the TUNEIN app.

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