Immediate reactions: Monmouth eliminates Canisius, 60-54, in MAAC quarterfinals

Canisius 27 27 — 54
Monmouth 27 33 — 60

By Nick Veronica

What it means: Canisius’ overachieving season came to a frustrating end Saturday at the Times Union Center. The Griffs offense struggled to find its rhythm all afternoon before bowing out of the MAAC Tournament.

How it happened: Both Canisius and Monmouth are known more for defense than offense, and that certainly played out Saturday. The Hawks’ defense badgered Canisius from start to finish as the Griffs shot 38 percent from field and 30 percent from three-point range. The better team won.

Jeremiah Williams was Canisius’ lone offensive threat, scoring 18 points in his final collegiate game. Kassius Robertson scored 10 off the bench while Josiah Heath scored seven on 3 of 12 shooting. Monmouth’s First Team All-MAAC guard Justin Robinson scored 16 points but didn’t have an assist. Williams was the story in the first half, as he scored Canisius’ first nine points and 14 of the team’s 27 in the first 20 minutes.

Canisius was in the game until the final seconds and finished the year 16-14 overall. Monmouth advanced to face No. 1 Iona on Sunday.

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Turning point: With 13 minutes to go, Monmouth went on a 13-0 run that spanned about five minutes and put the Hawks up 47-39. Canisius never regained the lead.

Valenti returns: Canisius forward Phil Valenti returned to action Saturday after dislocating his right ankle on Jan. 30. Valenti, sporting braces on both ankles, checked in with 15:55 left in the first half and finished with three points in limited action. He was cleared to play on Thursday and was obviously not 100 percent.

End of the line for seniors: 

… or is it?

Stat that was good: Josiah Heath had a career-high five assists.

Stat that was bad: Jamal Reynolds was credited with six turnovers.

Vegas line: The line was a pick last night and moved to Monmouth -1 today. The Hawks covered.

Next game: We’ll see what happens with the CIT. If not, Canisius’ next game will be an exhibition in October.

Check back later for an end-of-the-year column on Canisius’ encouraging season.

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