By Nick Veronica
How it happened: A back-and-forth game was settled by Iona’s offense late in the contest. The Gaels never stopped scoring and took the lead for good with a 10-2 run that gave them a 10-point lead at 87-77 with three minutes to go. The run was capped when A.J. English missed a three-pointer badly but Sean Armand got the rebound for an easy bucket, and DaShawn Gomez followed it up with a three. Canisius played well without Chris Manhertz, who missed the game with a broken nose, but could never really contain Iona’s offense.
Chris Perez led Canisius with 25 points and Billy Baron had 24 while Jordan Heath and Phil Valenti just missed double-doubles. Armand, Iona’s leading scorer, was kept quiet most of the game and finished with 10 points but English and David Laury stepped up in his place, finishing with 32 and 23 points, respectively. Canisius rolled seven players in the absence of Chris Manhertz.
What it means: Iona gained two games of separation atop the MAAC, improving to 12-2. Canisius lost back-to-back games for the second time this season and both losses this weekend came against fellow conference title contenders. The Griffs fall to 10-4 in the conference with six games to go. Improving on defense will continue to be a point of emphasis.
Manhertz out, Valenti plays well: Canisius’ leading rebounder Chris Manhertz missed the game with a broken nose he suffered Friday against Manhattan. Phil Valenti got his first career start in Manhertz’s place and finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in 34 minutes (his career high is 16 pts). While he was effective, Valenti didn’t provide Manhertz’s strength on defense. Total rebounds in the game were 39-38 Iona.
Lewis takes a tumble: Zach Lewis was bumped on a fast break midway through the second half and went down hard, holding his left shoulder. A flagrant foul was assessed Isaiah Williams. Lewis checked back in shortly after.
MAAC standings: Manhattan edged Niagara today, 78-77, for Niagara’s second consecutive one-point loss. With six games to play, here is how the top of the conference shapes up:
Attendance: This game was officially listed as a sellout with 2,196 people in attendance, which is why you don’t trust announced attendances. It was a good Sunday crowd, but there were empty seats.
Hall of Fame Day: Former Canisius basketball player Brian Dux was inducted into the school Hall of Fame today. If you don’t know his story, I suggest spending a few minutes Googling his name. Other members inducted Sunday were Derrick Bishop (hockey), Mark Miyashita (men’s lacrosse), Jill Wright (synchronized swimming) and the 1994 softball team. Dr. Keith Stube (team physician) was awarded the first Rev. Paul J. Dugan, S.J. Award, which recognizes individuals for significant contributions to Canisius athletics.
Next game: Canisius heads up to Niagara on Friday for a 9 p.m. Valentine’s Day game that will be broadcast on ESPNU.Follow @nickveronica