Immediate reactions: Canisius 98, Lehigh 89

Lehigh 41 48 – 89
Canisius 39 59 – 98

By Nick Veronica

What it means: Canisius picked up its first win of the season and avoided falling two games below .500 for the first time under Jim Baron. Malcolm McMillan played great again, following his 33-point opener with 31 points, which is especially impressive considering both games so far have come against teams picked to win their conferences. Lehigh dropped to 0-2.

How it happened: McMillan made big play after big play to become the first Griff with consecutive 30-point games since Billy Baron while Phil Valenti hit a career-high five 3-pointers.

Lehigh had a 12-point lead when center Tim Kempton – the Patriot League Player of the Year – picked up his fourth foul and checked out with 13 minutes to go. By the time he checked back in four minutes later, Canisius had stormed back to take a 70-65 lead, fueled by eight points from Valenti.

McMillan and Valenti both hit shots to break ties in the final two minutes, and after Valenti’s last 3-pointer with 1:11 to go, Kevin Bleeker drew a charge on Kempton for his fifth foul. Bleeker followed that up a two-landed slam on the ensuing possession to seal the win.

Reynolds crashes the boards: Jamal Reynolds scored 16 points and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, propelling him to his fifth career double-double. His 13 total rebounds helped give Canisius a 40-35 advantage on the glass.

McMillan, again: Through two games, McMillan looks like an absolute steal for Jim Baron. His 64 points are the most in his first two games as a Griff since Larry Fogle, who went on to lead the country in scoring in 1973-74.

And again, just sayin’ here with the Billy Baron comparison:

McMillan’s first two Canisius games: 64 points, 8 assists, 1-1 record.
Billy Baron’s first two Canisius games: 50 points, 7 assists, 1-1 record.

Cassidy Ryan

Cassidy Ryan

Ryan returns: Cassidy Ryan missed the team’s first game after returning home to be with his family following the death of his father. The Griffs had a moment of silence before the game for both Ryan’s father and the victims of the terrorist attacks in France. Valenti and Baron both said the team dedicated the game to Ryan.

Ryan, a reserve forward, played six minutes in the game, covering Kempton while Bleeker sat in the first half.

Quote of the night: Kempton kept it simple: “Tonight we couldn’t finish the freakin’ game.”

First look: Monday was also the first chance to see the team’s new players in action. In person, it was Ron Gombe who stood out the most. The 6-foot-8 sophomore transfer is muscularly built and moves well for a big man.

Getting the band back together: For the first time in about four years, Canisius has a pep band playing in the student section. The Canisius High School pep band used to play, but that seemed to fade away after Tom Parrotta was let go. The new band, composed of all Canisius College students, probably has something to do with Canisius broadcasting games on ESPN3.

Next game: Canisius hosts Cornell on Saturday, 3:15 p.m.