Courtesy of GoGriffs.com
Canisius sophomore Takal Molson scored a team-high 18 points, highlighted by the game-winning basket with 5.2 seconds left to play, and the Golden Griffins defense was able to force Quinnipiac into a bad shot at the final horn as the Griffs defeated the Bobcats 65-63 Thursday night at People’s United Center in Hamden, Conn. The win, which snapped Canisius’ three-game losing streak, moved the Blue and Gold to 6-11 overall and 3-2 in MAAC play, while Quinnipiac fell to 8-8 overall and 3-2 in conference action.
Molson was one of three Griffs to record double-figures in the win after he went 8-for-10 from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range on the night. Fellow sophomore Scott Hitchon added 15 points thanks to three makes from 3-point land and junior Isaiah Reese chipped in 11 points, nine assists, four rebounds and a career-high four blocked shots in the victory. For the game, Canisius shot 42.6 percent from the floor, 41.7 percent from 3-point land and just 42.9 percent from the free-throw line, connecting on three of seven chances from the stripe.
“I thought we were gritty enough tonight to overcome the wide rebounding difference,” said Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon. “I thought our defense, with the exception of a few possessions, was pretty good, especially because we were mixing and matching with some different rotations based off match-ups. The fact that we only turned the ball over two times in the second half was really key tonight, to be honest. With the way [Quinnipiac] rebounds, you can’t have too many empty possessions because that’s where they can get away from you, especially the way they shoot the three. We played with poise and we moved the ball well and we did a nice job not turning it over.”
Reese’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 4:23 left in the first half allowed the Miami, Fla., native to become the 38th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career. He is the ninth junior to accomplish the feat, and he reached the mark in his 84th career game in a Canisius uniform.
In a game that featured 16 lead changes and 12 ties, the Griffs took a 46-41 lead with 9:45 left to play after Hitchon knocked down one of his three 3-pointer field goals, with the assist coming from Reese. The Bobcats scored the game’s next five points to knot the game at 46-46, but Canisius regained the lead on its next trip down the floor when junior Malik Johnson hit a triple from the right win off a feed from Hitchon. That bucket by Johnson put the Griffs up 49-46.
“I thought our execution at both ends down the stretch was pretty good tonight,” Witherspoon added. “We got the ball inside and we played inside-out, which got us some good looks from three. I thought our off-the-ball movement tonight was really good too, and we ended with 18 assists, so we shared the ball as well.”
Quinnipiac led 55-52 with 4:33 left on the clock, but another trey from Hitchon and a lay-up by Molson in the span of 51 seconds put Canisius back in front at 57-55. From there, the teams traded baskets, with neither team leading by more than one point, until Quinnipiac senior Abdulai Bundu scored a traditional three-point play to give the home team a 63-61 lead with 1:01 left to play. Those would be the Bobcats’ last points of the night however, as Canisius scored the game’s final four points in the closing 50.2 seconds of regulation time to seal the win.
The Griffs knotted the game at 63-63 when Reese drove the lane and scored a lay-up with 50.2 second showing on the clock. On the ensuing possession, Canisius forced a Quinnipiac turnover, one of 15 on the night for the Bobcats, and then ran the clock down to 5.2 seconds, where Molson drove baseline and laid one over the side-iron to put Canisius ahead for good. After a Quinnipiac timeout, the Bobcats were not able to get a decent look at the basket as the final horn sounded.
Senior Jonathan Sanks came off the bench to score five points in the win, while Johnson and sophomore Jalanni White each posted four points in the victory. White also grabbed seven rebounds to go with two assists and a blocked shot on the night, as Canisius out-scored Quinnipiac 26-24 in the paint.
Thursday was the 12th all-time meeting between the two programs, with the Griffs leading the series 8-4. Canisius has won three of the last four contests. Five of the 12 games in this series have been decided by five points or less. The Griffs are 4-1 in games decided by five points or less this season, with three of those wins coming in MAAC play.
Molson has scored in double-figures in all 17 contests this season and in 21-straight games, dating back to the end of last year. Reese is the ninth Canisus junior to score 1,000 points in his career, and he is the third-straight Griffs’ junior to reach the career scoring milestone. Former teammates Kassius Robertson and Jermaine Crumpton also scored their 1,000th career point in their junior seasons. Reese made two 3-point field goals in the win Thursday night, which gives him 136 for his career. Thursday marked the 42nd time in his career where he’s recorded multiple 3-point makes in a game. Johnsons’ three assists gives him 352 for his career, making him just the 10th player in school history to distribute 350-or more career assists.
Canisius close out it weekend road trip to the state of Connecticut on Saturday, when the Blue and Gold travels to play at Fairfield. Game time is set for 1 p.m. The contest will be broadcast live on ESPN3, with the radio call available on WECK-Radio Buffalo, GoGriffs.com and the TuneIn app.