Courtesy of GoGriffs.com
BUFFALO — Fairfield senior Landon Taliaferro scored a team-high 11 points, with six of those coming in the game’s final 3:47, and the visiting Stags held Canisius to 28.1 percent from the field and 19.0 percent from 3-point land in a 46-42 victory Sunday afternoon at the Koessler Athletic Center. The win moves Fairfield to 5-8 overall and 1-1 in MAAC play, while the Golden Griffins fell to 5-9 overall and 0-3 in conference action.
In the lowest scoring game for Canisius in four seasons, the Griffs knotted the contest at 38-38 with 3:54 left to play in regulation time after juniorJalanni White hit a pair of free-throws as the teams came out of the media timeout. Moments later, Taliaferro got lost in transition and drilled a 3-pointer from the left-wing to put Fairfield up 41-38 with 3:47 left to play. Canisius trailed 43-40 with 2:55 left to play, but Taliaferro doubled the Stags’ cushion on the next trip down the floor as he connected on his third 3-point field goal of the day with 1:52 left to play to put the game out of reach for the Blue and Gold.
Canisius junior Scott Hitchon came off the bench to score a game-high 19 points in the loss after he went 7-for-12 from the field, 2-for-5 from 3-point range and 3-for-4 from the free-throw line. Junior Majesty Brandon added eight points and two steals in the losing effort, while senior guard Malik Johnson posted eight points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Graduate transfer Vincent Eze had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Stags, while junior Taj Benning came off the bench to add six points and nine rebounds to the Fairfield effort. The Stags shot 37.3 percent from the floor and 20.0 percent form 3-point range, with Taliaferro making all three of his team’s make from beyond the arc. Benning was one of four Fairfield players with six-or-more rebounds in the win, as the Stags out-rebounded Canisius by a 43-34 clip.
Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Postgame Comments
“It was obviously not a high-scoring affair. Give credit to Fairfield. They grinded it out to get the win. For our guys, the problem that we’re having is that we need rest and practice at the same time, and we’re only getting one of those. The reason for that is that we just don’t have enough healthy bodies to go out on the floor. We have a bunch of people who need to work on some things, but some guys are just overloaded because they have to be because of the situation that we’re in.”
“We have been struggling for us throughout the season – having a line-up that is available to practice and then play in games. There are some guys that are very limited or unavailable in practice, and then the same thing happens in games. When are they going to have a chance to play with each other, when are we going to have a chance to rotate? It’s not one of those things where you can just go throw out the ball and be ready to play. That’s the dilemma that we’re in. We just don’t have enough healthy bodies to develop the chemistry necessary in practice, and then develop the dependability that they have to have among each other in the games. We also need to develop some rhythm. Now, having said all that, we have to find a way.”
“We had opportunities to score more points because we had some shots that we normally like to take, but you cannot miss those and then expect to keep missing those and win. The other thing is, you can’t lose the rebound battle to [Fairfield], because they’re so deliberate, and they’re going to be even more deliberate when you give them offensive rebounds. You have to take advantage of the opportunities you have at your offensive end of the floor.”
• Sunday’s game was the 87th all-time meeting between the two Jesuit rivals, with Fairfield holding a 48-39 lead in the series.
• Sunday’s win for Fairfield ended the Stags’ three-game losing streak in the series, which dated back to the 2016-17 campaign.
• The 88 total points between the two teams on Sunday stands as the fewest combined points scored by Canisius and an opponent in a MAAC game since Feb. 8, 2015 when the Griffs and Monmouth combined for 88 points in a 44-40 win by the Hawks.
- Hitchon’s 19 points gives him double-figures in the scoring column in four of the team’s last five contests.
• Johnson extended his streak of dishing out five-or-more assists in a game to six-straight games.
Canisius will head back on the road to the state of New Jersey for a pair of games next weekend, starting at Monmouth on Friday, Jan. 10. That game will be broadcast live on ESPN+, with game time set for 7 p.m. The radio call will be available through WECK Buffalo Radio (1230-AM, 100.5-FM and 102.9-FM) and GoGriffs.com.