What a difference ten days can make.
Just over a week removed from a sloppy 12-point loss to Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La., a completely different Canisius team took the court Wednesday night in Buffalo as the Griffs manhandled the Demons, 85-52, at the Koessler Athletic Center.
It was a career day for sophomore Alshawn Hymes, who set the Canisius College record for most 3-pointers in a single game, with nine.
“I came in this morning and I just felt like something hit me, like the team was ready to play,” Hymes said. “It’s something I felt it a couple games throughout the season so far, but it was just so much stronger tonight.
“I dream about [nights like this] all the time. I know how good of a team we can be, and tonight we proved we’re taking steps in the right direction.”
Hymes finished the night with 28 points, the highest single-game output from a Griff since Frank Turner put up 30 against Southern Miss on Dec. 22, 2009.
Senior Julius Coles also had a night to remember, as his 15 points put him over the 1,000-point mark for his career. He is the 31st player in school history to accomplish the feat.
The teams traded baskets early on the contest, with Canisius leading 12-11 just over five minutes into the game.
The next five-minute block was an uneasy one for Canisius supporters. The Griffs went on another one of their infamous first-half cold streaks, missing 12 consecutive shots while being outscored 10-0 over the drought.
Sophomore Gaby Belardo knocked down a jumper with exactly ten minutes to play in the half, and it was the start of the comeback. Instead of turning the ball over and committing fouls like they did in Louisiana, Canisius controlled the boards and started making shots.
Twelve points from Hymes over the next seven minutes helped back a commanding 26-2 run that put Canisius back in the driver’s seat as they went up 38-23 and never looked back.
The Griffs finished the game with 43 rebounds—21 defensive, 22 offensive. The team also had 16 steals while forcing the Demons into 29 turnovers.
“Had we played like this down in Louisiana… it would have been a different story,” Canisius head coach Tom Parrotta said. “I think some of the guys said that tonight on the bench, ‘How did we let that happen down in Louisiana?’ ”
Even with a big lead, Parrotta stuck with his main rotation of eight players. Freshman Ashton Khan and junior Marial Dhal checked in with 2:06 left in the game and freshman Eric Kindler did the same with 1:03 to play.
Dhal didn’t collect a rebound but blocked two consecutive shots in a three-second span. Junior Rokas Gricius missed his third straight game with back spasms and freshman Chris Manhertz continued to be bothered by a bad ankle.
Canisius (6-6) shot 41.4 percent from the field while holding NSU (8-5, 1-5 road) to 33.3 percent.
Up next for Canisius is a road game at Saint Peter’s on Monday, Jan. 3. The Peacocks had won five straight games before losing star players Wesley Jenkins and Ryan Bacon to injury during Dec. 21’s game at Binghamton.
Jenkins is reported to have re-injured the same right knee he partially tore his ACL in over the summer, and Bacon is reported to have a sprained ankle. There is no official word yet on whether either player will be ready for the Canisius game, although neither played Wednesday night against Lehigh.
Jeron Belin and Nick Leon now lead the charge for Saint Peter’s. Both are good players, but this would be a great way for Canisius to make up ground in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings.
They said it
“I wish I could come up with something real positive to say about my bunch, but, you know, it’s going to be hard to find a silver lining in that. My daddy says, ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.’ Y’all prolly ain’t heard that one.”
-Northwestern State head coach Mike McConathy
Buffalo Bills tackle Demetrius Bell was on hand at the KAC for the game. Bell is a graduate of Northwestern State. He originally went to the school to play basketball.
Two can play that game
Coming into the contest, the Demons’ William Mosley led the nation in blocks per game (4.3). That was only extra motivation for senior Tomas Vazquez-Simmons, the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots, who joked that since both players wear the same number, he was glad to show people who the best number 42 is. Mosley finished the game with four blocks. Vazquez-Simmons had five.
Rob Goldsberry. Five assists, no turnovers, three rebounds. Sold a lot of foul calls early when the Griffs needed it. It’s the little things.