Canisius comes up short at Iona

Courtesy of GoGriffs.com

Trailing by 22 points with 11:26 left in the game, the Canisius men’s basketball team used a 24-6 run over the span of 9:28 to get within two points late, but the comeback effort came up short, as the Golden Griffins fell to Iona 69-66 Friday night at the Hynes Center in New Rochelle, N.Y.

The loss, which ended the Griffs’ three-game winning streak, moved Canisius’ record to 8-11 overall and 3-5 in MAAC play, while the Gaels improved to 5-9 overall and 3-4 in league action with the victory.

Sophomore Jordan Henderson was one of three Canisius players to register double-figures in the loss after he recorded a career-high 20 points to go with a career-best six rebounds. Junior Majesty Brandon came off the bench to score 19 points and fellow junior Jalanni White added 11 points, two rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. Senior Malik Johnson recorded a double-double for the second-straight game after he grabbed 11 rebounds to go with 10 assists in the losing effort for Canisius, which shot 42.9 percent from the field for the contest, highlighted by a 58.3 percent shooting clip in the game’s second half.

For Iona, senior Tajuan Agee scored a game-high 24 points to go with six boards, while fellow senior E.J. Crawford added 18 points and six rebounds. Iona shot 47.4 percent from the field in the win while making just 5-of-23 from 3-point land. The Gaels hit 10-of-12 free-throws on the night, with six of those makes coming in the game’s final 1:45.

Iona held Canisius to just 31.3 percent shooting from the field in the game’s opening half and the Gaels outscored the Griffs 24-6 in the paint to take a 35-27 lead into the locker room at halftime. Out of the intermission, Iona pushed its lead to 22 points at 59-37 with 11:26 left after reserve guard Ben Perez hit a jumper from just outside the lane. That field goal, however, would end up being Iona’s last for the next 8:52, and the Griffs used a 19-0 run to get the score to 59-56 following a 3-point make by Brandon. In Canisius’ 19-0 run, Henderson and Brandon combined to score 15 points for the Blue and Gold.

Crawford hit a pair of free-throws with 1:45 left on the clock to put Iona up 63-58, but the Griffs answered right back as Brandon drilled another 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it a two-point game at 63-61. That would be as close as Canisius would get on the night, however, as Iona scored six of the game’s final 11 points in the closing minute to seal the victory.

Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Postgame Comments
“Give credit to Iona, they executed very well and they put us in a hole. They played really hard and we didn’t play well enough the first 30 minutes to win the game. We just have to learn from this tonight and move on.”

“The run to get back into the game is encouraging. It is little steps for us. We just have to keep fighting to get ourselves in a position where we can sustain it. We need to sustain making quality decisions. That’s something we haven’t arrived at yet.”

“This league is tight. It’s really tight. We haven’t seen everyone in the league yet, but you know going into games that it’s going to be a possession-by-possession battle every time out.”

Game Notes
• This marked the 76th all-time meeting between the two teams, with Iona holding a 43-33 advantage.

  • Five of Canisius’ first eight MAAC games this season have been decided by five points or less.
  • The Griffs made 10 3-point field goals in the loss, the 80th time since 2012-13 the Blue and Gold have made 10-or-more 3-pointers in a game.
    • Johnson is the first Canisius player to record a double-double in back-to-back games since former Griff Jamal Reynolds had two consecutive double-doubles March 18 and March 21, 2015.
  • Johnson, who tied former Griff and Canisius Hall of Famer Micheal Meeks for the program record in career starts at 118, has now posted double-digit assists three times this season.
    • Henderson, who knocked down four 3-pointers on Friday, has hit 10 triples in the team’s last four games.

Up Next
Canisius closes its weekend road trip on Sunday when the Griffs play at Fairfield. Tip-off in Alumni Hall is set for 2 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN3. The radio call will be available through WECK Buffalo Radio (1230-AM, 100.5-FM and 102.9-FM) and GoGriffs.com.

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