Immediate reactions: Daemen 83, Canisius 81, OT (exhibition) 11/11/14

Daemen 41 34 8 — 83
Canisius 44 31 6 — 81

By Nick Veronica

How it happened: Zach Lewis forced up a three-pointer at the buzzer that wouldn’t go and Canisius lost an exhibition to Division II Daemen College, which is led by former Griffs coach Mike MacDonald.

Lewis missed a go-ahead three-pointer with under 10 seconds to go in regulation, but a bad Daemen turnover gave the Griffs the ball right under the hoop. Jan Grzelinski found Lewis for the tying layup with 2.8 seconds to go. Daemen’s Supreme Hannah scored five points in a 22-second span with just over a minute left to put the Wildcats ahead 75-73.

Lewis finished with 29 points. Torrence Dyck Jr. had 25 for Daemen and Gerald Beverly had 20.

Canisius jumped out to a 9-0 lead and pushed it to 16-5 before Daemen tied it at 26 with 7:40 left in the half. Daemen led by as many as three before Canisius retook the lead at the end of the half. Josiah Heath had a good start to the game with six points early but didn’t have a rebound in the first half. He finished with 12 points and two boards as he battled through calf cramps.

What it means: Jim Baron’s going to need a refill on his blood pressure medication tonight. This makes two exhibitions in a row that have been way too close for comfort. Baron was steaming when he had to take a timeout late in the second half and let his frustrations out at the refs following a loose ball call shortly after. The final sequence of regulation only made matters worse. This is looking like an increasingly long season for the Griffs. (It’s actually the second year in a row Canisius has lost to a D-II team. Last year, the Griffs lost to Metro State, 83-69, in the NIT Season Tip-Off.)

Daemen coach Mike MacDonald

Daemen coach Mike MacDonald

Welcome back: First-year Daemen coach Mike MacDonald, Canisius’ head coach from 1998-2006, looked great in his return to the KAC. His Wildcats are a solid D-II team. As much as Jim Baron likes to remind you that the Griffs have a lot of youth, keep in mind that MacDonald has only had his players for about six weeks. The game would’ve been even closer but Daemen couldn’t buy a call. MacDonald insisted in interviews that he has nothing personal against Canisius, but it had to be sweet for him to get this win.

Too late to transfer?: Daemen forward Gerald Beverly would start for Canisius. He has the size (6-foot-7, 225) and the ability at both ends of the court. He finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds tonight after dropping 24 on the Griffs in last year’s exhibition. Swingman Dyck Jr. (6-5, 190 with serious ups) would be a contributor too.

All of the shots: LMFAO’s song “Shots” could’ve been written about Zach Lewis. The star sophomore put up 23 shots tonight, making 7, and was 13 of 14 from the free-throw line. Lewis shoots whenever he has a look at the rim and whenever the offense can’t figure anything else out. He’ll need to be better than 2 of 15 from three-point range.

Valenti returns: Phil Valenti scored 14 points and pulled in 7 rebounds in his return from an ankle injury. He looked less than 100 percent. … Jermaine Crumpton sat out what should be the final game of his suspension for a violation of team rules … Raven Owen was still in a walking boot.

Jan turns it down: Freshman Jan Gzrelinski played 32 minutes and still looks to be the starter at point guard. But he had several chances to take big shots late in regulation and in overtime and passed them up. Just freshman nerves, but nerves nonetheless.

Who started: Zach Lewis, Jan Grzelinski, Phil Valenti, Jamal Reynolds and Josiah Heath. Kevin Bleeker returned to the bench after starting against Ryerson.

Redshirt candidates: We know Jim Baron will redshirt young players if the opportunity presents itself. Judging by usage in the exhibitions, it looks like Isaiah Gurley will redshirt, and Raven Owen may too. Cassidy Ryan played only six minutes tonight, but if I had to guess, I’d say he plays this year.

Next game: Canisius opens to regular season against Vermont on Saturday, Nov. 15.

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