How it happened: Just when it looked like UB was hitting enough shots to thwart every Canisius comeback attempt, a late run turned the tide, sparked by unlikely hero Phil Valenti. UB led 51-43 with 10:54 to play. But that’s when Chris Perez finally took advantage of a mismatch against Jarod Oldham and Valenti made a few clutch plays in a row to spark the rally, paced of course by Billy Baron, who led all players with 23. The Griffs closed on a 26-4 run.
What it means: Canisius showed some moxie in this one, and the come-from-behind win in front of an announced crowd of 4,703 at the First Niagara Center will be something to build on. The Griffs are now 1-1 against Big 4 rivals this season, having dropped their meeting with St. Bonaventure earlier this season. It was a coming out party for Perez, finally attacking against smaller players, and should give Jim Baron more confidence with Valenti when the bigs get in foul trouble.
Secondary scoring? Perez and Valenti took care of that in the second half, finishing with 16 and 11 points, respectively. There wasn’t much scoring outside of Baron and Perez in the first half: Those two were 7 for 15 shooting, and all other Griffs were 3 for 17.
Rebounding? Canisius outrebounded an opponent for just the third time this season, collecting 37 boards to UB’s 33. The Griffs pulled down 14 on the offensive end, and Chris Manhertz outrebounded Javon McCrea, 9-6, in eight fewer minutes.
Stats that were good: Canisius shot 55.6 percent (15-27) in the second half after going just 10 for 30 in the first half … Phil Valenti was 4 for 5 for a career-high 11 points with five rebounds and no turnovers in 18 minutes … Canisius had just six turnovers while forcing 15 … held UB to 6 of 23 from three-points range … the second half was 43-20 Canisius.
Stats that were bad: The Griffs were 13 of 25 from the free-throw line … Dominique Raney was 2 of 7 from the field … Zach Lewis and Jeremiah Williams were 0 for 5.
Notes: It was the 21st time Billy Baron scored 20 or more points in a college game. He also turned 23 today.
Next game: Canisius plays at St. Francis (Brooklyn) on Saturday at 4 p.m.Follow @nickveronica