Immediate reactions: Canisius 69, Saint Peter’s 55

Saint Peter’s 18 37 — 55
Canisius 33 36 — 69

By Nick Veronica

How it happened: The temperatures Sunday may have been below zero, but Canisius’ shooting was hot. The Griffs made 56.5 percent of their shots in the first half and 50 percent overall — just shy of their best field-goal percentage of the season, 50.8 — against a Saint Peter’s team that entered the game first in the MAAC in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense and three-point percentage defense. The Griffs coasted to a 14-point win.

Jeremiah Williams led Canisius with a career-high 22 points, including 14 in the first half, while Josiah Heath had 15 and Kevin Bleeker had a season-high 10. Zach Lewis had his right wrist and thumb were taped up and took only six shots, matching his season-low.

Marvin Dominique led Saint Peter’s with 15 points, but Desi Washington (14.3 ppg) was held to three.

What it means: Canisius won its first game since losing Phil Valenti at the end of January and got back to .500 in the MAAC at 8-8 (13-12 overall) while Saint Peter’s fell to 13-14, 7-9. Canisius sits in sixth place with four games to go (and could move into a tie for fifth if Quinnipiac loses to Iona Sunday evening) and still has a chance to avoid the play-in game at the conference tournament, which pits seeds 6-11 against each other while seeds 1-5 have a first-round bye.

Heath trending up: Heath, one of Canisius’ two seniors, has stepped up his game as the calendar winds down on his collegiate eligibility. Not only is his physical presence become much more noticeable, Heath is averaging 12.4 points and 10.4 rebounds in the five games since Valenti was injured, up from his season averages of 8.3 ppg and 6.1 rpg.

Grzelinski trending down: Starting point guard Jan Grzelinski was held without a point for the fourth consecutive game and played only 11 minutes Sunday while sitting much of the second half. Grzelinski has shown promising flashes this year but has not been consistently effective. Williams started the second half Sunday and has been much more efficient. Baron just seems to like having Williams come off the bench.

Good first half: The 15-point halftime lead was Canisius’ largest of the season.

T’d up: Saint Peter’s Jamel Fields received a technical foul with 15:04 left in the game after angrily reacting to call on a ball that was deflected out of bounds. Zach Lewis missed both free throws.

Dunne denied 100th: Saint Peter’s coach John Dunne won his 99th career game Friday at Niagara but was denied his 100th win against Canisius. It’s strange to say a ninth-year coach is still looking for his 100th win. Most coaches don’t last that long. Dunne’s career record is 99-174.

Vegas line: Vegas Insider had Canisius -2.5 and over/under 115.5. Canisius covered; total was 124.

Next: Canisius travels to Siena on Thursday and Quinnipiac on Saturday.