Canisius rally falls short in overtime loss to Brown

Malik Johnson. (Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Brown shot 80 percent from the field and made five free-throws in overtime, while Canisius shot just 25 percent from the floor in the extra session, as the visiting Bears knocked off the Golden Griffins 97-90 in overtime Tuesday night in non-conference action in the Koessler Athletic Center. The win, Brown’s fifth straight, moved to team to 11-4 on the season, while the Griffs, who saw their two-game win streak end with the loss, fell to 5-9.

Brown sophomore Desmond Cambridge scored a game-high 31 points in the win for the Bears, while fellow sophomore Tamenang Choh added 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Brown ended the night shooting 50.0 percent from the floor, 40.0 percent from 3-point land and 60.7 percent from the free-throw line and turned 22 Canisius turnovers into 27 points.

“We played a really good team tonight and we fought hard to get back into the game,” said Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon. “We turned the ball over too many times and we got out-rebounded. It is really hard to win the game when those things happen. I thought our guys fought to the end and we actually had a chance to win.”

For the Griffs, four players recorded double-figures in the scoring column, led by junior guard Malik Johnson, who had 19 points. Sophomore Takal Molson added 18 points, six rebounds and a career-high three blocked shots in the loss, while junior Isaiah Reese and sophomore Scott Hitchon added 15 points, apiece. The Griffs shot 49.2 percent from the field, made 13 3-point field goals, with 10 coming in the game’s second half, and shot 59.1 percent from the charity stripe for the contest. Brown ended the night with a 41-35 advantage on the glass as well, with 13 of the Bears’ 41 boards coming off the offensive glass.

“I think the ball moved pretty well and our spacing was good and our passing was good at times, but we just have to learn to be poised, particularly in transition,” Witherspoon added. “We need to take our time. We still forced our way into too many things and it resulted in too many turnovers. I think we’re getting better at where the next pass is supposed to go. Now we have to consistently do it.”

Canisius trailed 82-78 with 1:14 left in regulation time after Cambridge scored a lay-up off a feed from teammate Zach Hunsaker. After the Griffs took a 30-second timeout, the Blue and Gold trimmed the Brown lead to one at 82-81 thanks to a 3-point field goal by Reese off an assist from senior Jonathan Sanks. On the ensuing possession, Brown missed a 3-point shot, and Canisius raced down the floor and took the lead at 84-82 with 12.1 seconds left after Johnson knifed through the lane and laid one over the side of the rim. Brown answered, however, and knotted the game at 84-84 with 2.4 seconds left on the clock after Choh hit a runner in the lane to send the game to overtime, the Griffs’ first overtime contest of the season.

“Our non-conference schedule has been really, really grueling. The hope is that with the teams that we’ve played, we can take those body-blows from those teams to get stronger physically and mentally tougher, because there are some talented players in our league as well.”

In the extra session, a lay-up by Johnson 17 seconds into the overtime period put Canisius up 86-84, but that would be the Griffs’ final lead of the night, as Brown scored the game’s next five points to post an 89-86 advantage. After Molson hit a free-throw to make it 89-87, the Bears pulled away for good by scoring the game’s next six points in the span of 31 seconds to make the score read 95-87 in favor of the visiting team.

Canisius senior Jibreel Faulkner scored seven points and matched a career-high with eight rebounds in the losing effort for the Griffs, who ended non-conference play with a record of 2-9. Reese led Canisius with five assists and three steals on the night, and freshman Jordan Henderson came off the bench to match a career-best with three rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

This was the seventh all-time meeting between these two schools in a series that dates back to the 1959-60 season. Canisius is now 5-2 all-time against Brown. Tuesday was the 134th overtime game in program history. Canisius is 88-46 all-time in overtime games and 32-27 at home. The Griffs made 13 3-point field goals in the losing effort, the 69th time the team has made 10-or more 3-pointers in a game since the start of the 2012-13 campaign.

The 19 points for Johnson marks his sixth game in double-figures this season and the 19th in his career. Johnson’s two assists against Brown gives him 340 for his career, which ties him for 11th in program history with former Griff guard Robert Turner. Molson has scored in double-figures in all 14 games this season and in 18-straight games, dating back to the end of last year. Reese passed the 300-career assists milestone with his game-high five assists in the loss. He now has 304 career assists in 81 career games as a Griff.

Hitchon’s 15 points fell a point shy of matching his career-high, set Dec. 16 at Elon. In the last two games, the Whitby, Ontario native has gone 9-for-10 from the free-throw line after he was a perfect 6-for-6 on Tuesday.

Up Next
Canisius will return to MAAC action on Friday, Jan. 11, when the Griffs host Rider, the team Canisius shared the 2017-18 MAAC regular-season championship with. Game time in the Koessler Athletic Center is set for 7 p.m. That contest will be broadcast on ESPN+, with the radio call available on WECK-Radio Buffalo, and the TuneIn app.

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