Courtesy of GoGriffs.com
BUFFALO — Five Canisius players scored in double-figures, led by freshman Takal Molson and his game-high 24 points, as the Golden Griffins rolled past Marist 98-74 Sunday afternoon in the regular-season finale in the Koessler Athletic Center. With the victory, Canisius improved its record to 21-10 overall and 15-3 in MAAC play, while the Red Foxes fell to 6-24 overall and 4-14 in conference action.
With the win, coupled with Rider’s win over Iona, Canisius earned a share of the 2017-18 MAAC regular-season championship, the program’s first since 1993-94. This marks the eighth time in MAAC history where teams have shared the conference’s regular-season championship, and this year is the first time since 2007-08. By MAAC tie-breaking policy, Rider will be the No. 1 seed in next weekend’s MAAC Basketball Championship in Albany, N.Y., while the Griffs have secured the second seed – the best conference seeding for the Blue and Gold since 2001.
Molson’s 24 points came after he went 9-for-14 from the floor, 4-for-4 from 3-point land and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line in 33 minutes of action. He also tallied six rebounds, dished out five assists, earned three steals and blocked two shots in the victory. Sophomore Isaiah Reese was good for 17 points and a game-high seven assists, while fellow sophomore Malik Johnson added 15 points and six assists. Junior Jonathan Sanks matched a career-high with 14 points off the bench, while seniorJermaine Crumpton chipped in 13 points in his final scheduled appearance on the Koessler Athletic Center floor. For the game, Canisius shot 60.9 percent from the field, 48.3 percent from 3-point land and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line. The team made a season-high 39 baskets in the win, with 14 of those coming from behind the 3-point arc.
Marist came out of the gates strong and led Canisius by nine points at 22-13 just 6:38 into the contest. From there, Canisius turned it on, using a 10-0 run over the next 1:16 to take a 23-22 lead. Marist led 37-36 with 4:50 left before halftime, but a 13-2 run by the Griffs to close the half sent the teams into the break with Canisius leading 47-39.
In the second half, Canisius’ cushion ballooned to as many as 15 points at 60-45 with 16:01 left on the clock, but Marist worked that down to an eight-point advantage at 60-52 with 14:30 left to play. The Blue and Gold slammed the door on any sort of a Marist comeback, however, as the Griffs outscored the Red Foxes 19-8 over the game’s next 6:49 to make the score 79-60 in favor of the home team.
Marist junior Ryan Funk scored a team-high 17 points for the Red Foxes, who closed the regular season with losses in seven of their final eight contests. Fellow junior Brian Parker added 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to the losing effort for Marist, which shot 48.1 percent from the field a 30.4 percent from 3-point land for the game. However, in the second half, Marist shot 34.4 percent from the field and made just three of 15 tries from long range.
Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Postgame Comments
“I give Marist a lot of credit, they came out and stuck it to us right off the jump. They hit their threes and spread us out. They forced us to play small, they gave us no choice. It obviously worked for us. We’ve been working on using a smaller line-up in practice, and when [Jermaine Crumpton] got his second foul early, we knew it was time to go small. It ended up being a good thing for us.
“We talked postgame about winning the regular-season championship, and we talked about winning 21 games and setting the school record for MAAC wins in a year with 15. We haven’t talked about those things as a group before today because we were really focused on taking care of the things we could handle day-to-day. Now, the regular-season is over, and a new season is upon us. We will enjoy this for the rest of today and get back to work tomorrow with the next set of goals.”
• This was the 48th all-time meeting between these two schools. Canisius leads the series 30-18.
• The Griffs are now 16-5 at home all-time against Marist, and the Blue and Gold have won the last three home dates over the Red Foxes by an average margin of 24 points per game.
• The 98 points scored in regulation are the most in a MAAC game for the Griffs since Feb. 16, 1994 when Canisius beat Niagara 98-74 at home.
• Canisius’ 21 win matches the program record for wins in a regular-season. The 1993-94 edition of the Griffs also won 21 games en route to the program’s first MAAC regular-season crown.
• The 15 league wins this year are a new program record.
• Canisius’ 11 wins at home are the most for the Blue and Gold since 2012-13, when the team won 12 times on its home court.
• Molson has scored in double-figures in games this season, the most for a Canisius freshman since Frank Turner did it 20 times in 2006-07.
• Crumpton has now scored 10-or more points in 27-straight games, dating back to Nov. 24 against Texas State.
• Reese’s two steals gives him 70 steals for the season, making him just the fourth player in program history to record 70-or more steals in a single season.
• Canisius has now made 30-or more field goals in five-straight games.
Canisius will return to action on Friday, March 2, when the team plays at 9:30 p.m., in the second quarterfinal game of the 2018 MAAC Basketball Championship in Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3, with the radio call available on Buffalo’s WECK 1230-AM and 102.9-FM, GoGriffs.com and the TUNEIN app.