By Nick Veronica
How it happened: Canisius was the better of the two teams in the first half but Monmouth kept it tight early on. Two three-pointers from Billy Baron in the final two minutes of the first half and a three at the buzzer from Zach Lewis gave Canisius (11-6, 5-1) its first real separation and a 10-point halftime lead. The Griffs offense stayed strong in the second half and extended the lead to as many as 26. Baron had 26 points, which improved his scoring average to 22.9 ppg, keeping him sixth nationally.
What it means: This was a winnable game and Canisius won it. The played with the lead most of the game and poured it on stronger in the second half to kept pace atop the MAAC. Zach Lewis, the first true freshman Jim Baron has played at Canisius, contributed in a big way…
Zach Attack: Zach Lewis is making the most of being in the starting lineup ahead of Dominique Raney. He played 46 minutes Friday in Canisius’ double-overtime win in his first career start and followed it up with a career-high 25 points Saturday (his previous high was 18). Lewis was 5 for 6 on three-pointers in the second half and added two assists and two steals. About the only negative of his game was talking smack to King Rice and the Monmouth bench after draining a three before halftime, which enraged the Hawks coach, though Rice said Lewis apologized later.
Rebounding? Boards were 36-32 Monmouth, which was right about average for both teams. Baron was the team’s leading rebounder with eight, which isn’t what you want. Jordan Heath had seven in 27 minutes and Chris Manhertz had four in 23 minutes, sitting for more than 7 1/2 minutes at one point with foul trouble.
Stats that were good: Canisius had 20 assists on 26 field goals … Canisius held Monmouth to 4 of 17 on three-pointers … After going 5 for 5 from the free-throw line, Baron has now made 95 of 103 free throws this year … Monmouth’s leading scorers Deon Jones and Nicholas Andrew were held to 15 points combined … Canisius stayed undefeated at home (6-0).
Stats that were bad: As a team, the Griffs were 21 of 30 from the free-throw line, including several misses early … Baron led the team in rebounding again … Manhattan and Iona all won to stay 5-1 in the MAAC.
Noteworthy: Jim Baron today passed Digger Phelps in career wins today with 420. Baron was an assistant under Digger at Notre Dame.
Next game: Canisius travels to Iona on Friday. The game is a 9 p.m. start and will be broadcast on ESPNU.Follow @nickveronica