Droughts leave Griffs looking for answers, wins

It seems like a recurring theme for the Canisius basketball team over the last few years. One second the Griffs are in the game, then you blink and the opponent has busted it open with a lopsided run, usually caused by some combination of cold shooting, turnovers, soft defense and fast breaks going the opposite direction.

Mark down Saturday afternoon’s 77-62 loss at Loyola of Maryland as another one of those.

7-foot-3 senior Marial Dhal is extremely difficult to get around when he stretches out, as he does here during a promotion earlier this season. He could be in line for more game time if he plays solid defense.

A Chris Manhertz layup gave Canisius the lead for 41 seconds in the first half before a 9-0 run put Loyola back ahead. The Griffs came back and made it a one-possession game at 23-20, but then gave up smaller runs of 7-0 and 7-2 and trailed by 13 at the break.

The Griffs are yet to come back and win a game this season when they trail at halftime. Going down 37-24 on the road in a conference game doesn’t make it any easier.

But the Griffs battled back once again, this time using balanced scoring to double-up their first half total just over eight minutes into the second half. Alshwan Hymes hit a 3-pointer to bring Canisius within four points with ten minutes to go.

At 57-53, it was anyone’s game for the taking. And then you blinked.

Harold Washington and Reggie Groves scored the Griffs’ only two baskets over the next eight minutes while Robert Olson and Dylon Cormier powered Loyola to an 18-4 run that put the game well out of reach.

It was the second game in a row that Canisius missed 8 of 10 consecutive shots to get in a deep hole, only this time there was no miraculous comeback to make things interesting.

Canisius’ shifting zone defense, which had held opponents to a MAAC-best 32.3 percent from 3-point range coming into the game, was exposed by the Greyhounds (11-4, 4-1), who hit 9 of 17 (.529) from behind the arc.

Cormier led all scorers with 23 points and Olson was next with 16 as the guards combined to hit 7 of 11 3-pointers.

Marial Dhal is seeing an increased role on this road trip, logging a career-high 18 minutes against Loyola. After being robbed of at least two blocked shots on the official stats Thursday night, Dhal responded with a Tomas Vazquez-Simmons-like five-block performance in Saturday’s game that left quite the impression on the Greyhound broadcasters.

He will see more game time if he can hold his own on the defensive end, which, for the 7-foot-3 senior, will include rebounding. Dhal only collected two boards — both defensive — and was worked over by smaller players several times as the Greyhounds dominated Canisius in the rebounding department. Loyola grabbed 24 of 30 Canisius misses and almost half of their own (13 of 29) while seven Greyhounds had at least four rebounds, compared with only two Griffs who matched that feat.

Washington, the MAAC’s second-leading scorer, was 6 of 14 for a quiet 15 points and two assists in front of a large group of family and friends from his hometown of nearby Brandywine, Md.

Gaby Belardo looked like “the old Gaby Belardo” — the player he promised to return to — for the second game in a row, playing through a herniated disc for his a nice stat line of 14 points, seven assists, five steals and two turnovers in 35 minutes of work. He might even be better than the “old” Belardo since making that decree: he has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 5:1 over the last two games.

The Griffs now sit in the basement of the MAAC at 0-5, but have a chance to move up with a three-game homestand that starts next Friday, Jan. 13 when the Marist Red Foxes (7-8, 2-2) come to the Koessler Athletic Center.