Courtesy of GoGriffs.com
Niagara University scored four points in the closing 31.3 seconds, and two Canisius misses from 3-point range in the final 11 seconds that would have tied the game came up short, as the host Purple Eagles posted a 69-66 win over the Golden Griffins Wednesday night at the Gallagher Center in Lewiston, N.Y. The win moves Niagara to 8-16 overall and 6-7 in MAAC action, while Canisius fell to 9-15 overall and 4-9 in league play.
Canisius, which trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half, battled back after halftime and trailed by just two at 65-63 with 1:51 remaining. After the teams traded empty possessions, Canisius junior Scott Hitchon grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled on his way back up to the basket with 1:03 left to play. Hitchon knocked down the first free-throw to cut Niagara’s lead to 65-64, but he missed the second charity toss. Off that miss, sophomore Jordan Henderson grabbed the rebound and laid the ball over the side of the rim to put the Blue and Gold up 66-65 with 1:01 left on the clock.
On Niagara’s next trip down the floor, guard Raheem Solomon was fouled in the act of shooting with 31.1 seconds left, and he hit both free-throws to put the home team back up 67-66. As Canisius came down the floor trailing by one, Niagara was able to knock the ball away just in front of the baseline, allowing Niagara guard Justin Roberts to grab the loose ball and race the length of the floor for a lay-up to make it a three-point game at 69-66. Out of Canisius’ final timeout, the Griffs had a pair of chances to tie the game, but a 3-point attempt from the top of the key and a follow-up 3-point chance from the left-wing bounced off the iron, and Niagara was able to secure the win.
Four Canisius players recorded double-figures in the losing effort, led by freshman Jacco Fritz, who recorded his second career double-double effort with a career-high 18 points to go with a career-best 12 rebounds. Junior Majesty Brandon added 14 points and eight rebounds, while Henderson and Hitchon chipped in 10 points each. For the game, Canisius shot 38.3 percent from the field, 16.7 percent from 3-point land and 76.2 percent from the free-throw line while out-rebounding Niagara by a 47-30 clip.
Niagara’s Marcus Hammond scored 17 points to go with eight boards and three assists in the win for Niagara, the team’s fifth home victory in league play this season. James Towns came off the bench to add 16 points and two steals, while Greg Kuakumensah posted 12 points and five rebounds before fouling out late in the game. For the contest, Niagara shot 45 percent from the field, made 7-of-16 shots from 3-point range and hit 72.7 percent of its chances from the free-throw line.
This was the 186th all-time meeting between these two schools, with Niagara now holding a 103-83 lead in the series. Wednesday marked the 75th time in series history that the final outcome of a game was decided by five-points or fewer. Niagara has won 42 of those contests.
Canisius fell to 4-7 this season in games decided by five points-or-less, with six of those losses having come in MAAC play. The 47 rebounds for Canisius are the most for the Blue and Gold in a game this season.
Fritz scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the game’s second half. Senior guard Malik Johnson scored nine points to go with seven rebounds and two assists in the game. Wednesday night marked his 123rd career game as a Griff, which ties him for sixth all-time in program history with former Griff Greg Logins (Sodus).
The game featured eight lead changes and six ties.
Canisius will be back in back in action at home on Friday night when the team plays host to Monmouth at 7 p.m., at the Koessler Athletic Center