LEWISTON, N.Y. (Canisius Press Release) - Canisius College junior guard Billy Baron scored a career-high 33 points and senior Harold Washington added 18 points and a team-high four assists as the Golden Griffins went on the road and defeated Niagara 77-70 Sunday afternoon in front of a sold-out Gallagher Center. The win, which ended Canisius’ nine-game road losing streak in the series to Niagara, moved the Blue and Gold to 16-9 overall and 9-5 in MAAC action, while the Purple Eagles slipped to 14-11 overall and 10-4 in conference action.
Baron’s 33 points, the most for a Canisius player in a road game since former Griff Micheal Meeks scored 36 in a win at Pennsylvania Nov. 16, 1994, came after he went 11-for-22 from the field, 4-for-8 from 3-point land and 7-for-8 from the foul line in 39 minutes of action. Washington added a team-high two steals to his 18-point effort and junior center Jordan Heath scored eight points to go with a game-high 12 rebounds, highlighted by his offensive rebound and put-back dunk with 52 seconds left that put Canisius up 68-64. The Griffs shot 46.3 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from 3-point land and ended up hitting 79.2 percent of its tries from the foul line (19-for-24) while out rebounding the Purple Eagles by a 38-34 count.
“This was the case where our guys came together and understood what they needed to do,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “This was a great team victory. We out rebounded them and we played defense against a pretty athletic team. We got guys off our bench to come in and step up. Josiah Heath, Freddy Asprilla, Alshwan Hymes and Reggie Groves really helped us off the bench today. That’s important. I told the upper classmen they had a chance to be a part of something special. We came together today. We got great effort from Jordan [Heath] and Chris Manhertz, and Billy – what can you say? He attacked off the dribble, went to the basket and was really good at the free-throw line.”
Canisius shot 50 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from behind the 3-point arc in the game’s first half to take a 35-24 lead into the locker room at intermission. In the second half, Niagara took two runs at Canisius on two separate scoring spurts, highlighted by an 8-0 run over the span of 3:04 that erased a seven-point Canisius lead to give the host squad a 53-52 lead with 5:58 left to play. Two free-throws and a 3-pointer by Baron gave Canisius a 57-53 lead with 5:17 left in the game, but back-to-back 3-point field goals from Niagara guard Juan’ya Green gave the lead back to home team at 59-57 with 4:34 left on the clock. From there, the score would be knotted two more times in the span of 1:22 before Baron drove through the lane and laid one off the glass with 2:14 left to play to give Canisius a 66-64 lead.
Baron had a chance to put Canisius up three points with 2:14 left after he was fouled hard on his drive to the basket, but he missed the free-throw. The Griffs grabbed the rebound but were unable to convert, and ended up fouling Niagara junior Marvin Jordan in pursuit of the loose ball. Jordan missed a pair of free-throws, but the Griffs turned it over at their end of the court and Niagara raced down the floor on a 3-on-1 break. On that break, sophomore Josiah Heath was able to get his hand in the passing lane and the ball went out the other way, with Washington leading the break for the Blue and Gold. The senior guard missed his fast-break lay-up chance, but Jordan Heath came running down the lane and slammed the rebound home with a big two-handed dunk to put Canisius up 68-64 with 52 seconds left on the clock. Canisius was able to make six-straight free-throws as Niagara missed three-straight 3-point shots, with Josiah Heath draining four charity tosses in the game’s final 30 seconds to seal the win for the Griffs, the program’s first win in the Gallagher Center since Nov. 20, 2002.
Four Niagara players scored in double figures in the losing effort, led by Green, who posted a team-high 21 points to go with five rebounds and five assists. Ameen Tanskley, Devon White and C.J. Cline all had 12 points in the loss for Niagara, which shot 38.7 percent from the field, 34.5 percent from 3-point land and 52.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Chris Manhertz had seven rebounds and three blocked shots in the win for Canisius, while Jordan Heath was also credited with three blocks for the Blue and Gold. Senior Isaac Sosa chipped in seven points, highlighted by his basket with 2:43 left in the game that knotted the game at 64-64.
The Griffs will continue their five-game road swing Thursday, Feb. 14, when the team plays at Loyola (Md.) in Baltimore. Tipoff time is set for 7:30 p.m.
Game Notes: This was the 172nd all-time meeting between Canisius and Niagara, with Niagara now leading the all-time series 96-76… Prior to Sunday’s win, the Griffs had lost five straight to Niagara by an average margin of 7.2 points per game… This marks the first time since 2000-01 where Canisius has beaten Buffalo, Niagara and St. Bonaventure in the same season… Baron’s previous career-high was 30 points, set Dec. 22 at UNLV… Baron’s 22 field goal attempts on Sunday were the most for a Canisius player since Harold Washington had 23 in an overtime win at South Dakota Dec. 18, 2011… Washington’s 18 points gives him double figures in the scoring column in 42 career games as a Griff… Eleven of Jordan Heath’s 12 rebounds came off the defensive glass, which is a career high for the junior… Canisius is 5-2 this season when Manhertz has two or more blocks in a game.