By Nick Veronica
How it happened: Niagara was ahead for most of the night but Billy Baron led Canisius back into the game with 21 points in the second half. Chris Perez was valuable as well, attacking the hoop for 17 points. Canisius led at 4-2 and then not again until 57-56, but was able to recover to sweep the season series from Niagara for the first time since 1994-95.
Canisius was dreadful from three-point range, making only 4 of 20 attempts, but finished the game well. Niagara led 61-58 with 5:56 remaining but was outscored 13-4 the rest of the way.
What it means: Canisius snaps a two game losing streak and keeps pace with Manhattan and Quinnipiac (11-4), who are all tied for second place in the MAAC behind Iona (14-2). Billy Baron finishes his career 2-0 at the Gallagher Center. Niagara falls to 3-12 in conference.
Manhertz out again: Chris Manhertz missed his second consecutive game with a broken nose. He is still dealing with pain and didn’t feel well Friday so he did not make the trip to the Gallagher Center. Jim Baron said later that Manhertz has hardly left his campus dorm room. The procedure to reset his nose was successful, I was told, but he has not yet returned to practice. Phil Valenti started again in Manhertz’s place. Total rebounds were 45-38 Niagara.
Scoring watch: Mason, who leads the country at 26.3 ppg, finished with 17 points. Baron, who entered the game ranked fifth at 23.6, scored 34.
Action for Bleeker: Kevin Bleeker didn’t play in either game last weekend despite having a short bench but played 16 minutes tonight as Jordan Heath and Phil Valenti were in early foul trouble. That was only two minutes off his season high, but he didn’t put up much on the scoresheet. He finished with three rebounds.
MAAC outlook: Canisius improves to 11-4 with five games left on the conference schedule; the top five teams get first-round byes at the MAAC tournament. This matches Canisius’ conference win total from year.
Baron’s tie was not purple: I spent a chuck of the game talking with people about Jim Baron’s tie. My seat was toward the Niagara end of the press table and from there it really looked like he was wearing a purple tie. Several people, both in attendance and watching on ESPN, mentioned they thought it was purple and didn’t think that was a good look for the Canisius coach. One person on Twitter said there were “definitely some violet hues going on.” But I had a perfect view when Baron came over to the table for his post-game radio interview. Crisis averted. (Of course, that tweet should say personal, not person.)
Next game: Canisius plays at Siena, 2 p.m. Sunday.Follow @nickveronica
(Oh, and this happened tonight. Seriously.)