Canisius ties NCAA comeback record, beats UL-Monroe in triple OT

By Nick Veronica

Canisius erased an 11-point deficit in the final 40 seconds of regulation and went on to beat Louisiana-Monroe in triple overtime Tuesday night, 108-96, tying the NCAA record for largest deficit overcome in the final minute of a game.

Canisius joined UNLV as the only Division I basketball team on record to ever win a game when trailing by 11 points with less than one minute to go. No team had ever trailed by as many points as Canisius with less time remaining while still managing to win the game.

Here’s the list of largest last-minute comebacks from the NCAA record book:

The victory pairs Canisius with Nicholls State for the final round of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic on Wednesday. Tipoff at Orleans Arena is set for 5 p.m. Eastern.

The comeback

Poor free-throw shooting doomed UL-Monroe, which missed six of its last seven free throws in the final 1:10 of regulation. Canisius made all four 3-pointers it took in the final minute.

11 – Canisius trailed by 13 points before freshman Chris Atkinson started the comeback, hitting two free throws with 1:02 to play.

8 – Justin Roberson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 on UL-Monroe’s next possession before Atkinson hit a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to cut the deficit to eight points at 77-69.

5 – Nick Coppola was the next Warhawk to miss the front end of a 1-and-1, and Isaiah Gurley hit a 3-pointer to make it 77-62 with 32 seconds left.

3 – After UL-Monroe entered the double bonus, Majok Deng hit 1-of-2 free throws with 25 seconds left, but Canisius’ Jermaine Crumpton hit a 3-pointer just three seconds later to make it a one-possession game at 78-75.

0 – Travis Munnings missed both of his free throws with 19 seconds left, which set up Atkinson’s game-tying triple with 12 seconds remaining.

Canisius erased an 11-point hole in just 28 seconds of game time. ULM coach Keith Richard took a timeout with four seconds left to draw up a play for a game-winning shot, but Deng’s late 3-pointer missed.

Overtime: 78-78

ULM’s Marcus Washington fouled Malcolm McMillan on a 3-point attempt with six seconds left while Canisius trailed by two.

McMillan hit all three shots to put the Griffs up by one. ESPN then sent out an alert that the game had gone final, but jumped the gun – ULM had two free throws to shoot in the final second. Coppola made the first but missed the second, sending the game to a second overtime.

2OT: 89-89

Deng tied the game with 37 seconds left, but Canisius looked like it would win when Kassius Robertson was fouled with one second remaining. Nope. He missed both shots to force triple overtime.

3OT: 96-96

Canisius outscored ULM 12-0 in the final overtime period to clinch a share of an NCAA record. McMillan had eight of the 12 points while Robertson found a bit of redemption, hitting both of his free throws. Four ULM players fouled out in the game, including three starters. Only Atkinson fouled out for Canisius.

Robertson finished with a career-high 28 points, which led all players. McMillan had 21 for the Griffs, while Phil Valenti had 16 and Atkinson and Crumpton each scored 13. ULM had six players in double-figures, led by Deng’s 21.

“When we were down eight, I told the guys: we can win this thing,” Canisius coach Jim Baron said. “We had to withstand the wave and we just kept battling.”

Junkyard dogs

The win also gave Baron an opportunity to use his favorite phrase.

“That right there was an example of how we play,” Baron said. “We’re junkyard dogs. We don’t give up.”

The win brought the Griffs to 5-6 and marked their first win this season away from the Koessler Athletic Center. ULM also moved to 5-6.



Coppola played a school-record 54 minutes for ULM. Robertson led Canisius with 48 minuted but didn’t come close to the school record Billy Baron set by playing all 55 minutes of a triple-overtime win against Siena in 2014.

Canisius improved to 5-1 all-time in games going three overtimes or longer. That includes Canisius’ 4OT win over N.C. State in the 1956 NCAA Tournament, which Sports Illustrated in 2014 ranked as the No. 1 tournament upset of all-time.


Postgame interviews: Canisius 84, Boston University 68

By Nick Veronica

Malcolm McMillan doesn’t care if he gets “posterized” – being dunked over so hard that the image is worthy of hanging on a bedroom wall.

He’s been on the wrong end of an ESPN highlight before. So what? Getting scored on is getting scored on. For him, the risk is worth the reward. He might only be 6 feet tall but he’s going for the block every time.

Late in the first half of Saturday’s win over Boston University, the Canisius senior raced back on defense for chance to stop an uncontested basket. Sure, there was a chance McMillan could look silly. BU’s Eric Fanning was going in all alone. But McMillan caught Fanning from behind at the last second and rejected a breakaway dunk.

The crowd loved it. The Griffs fed off the energy and blew the game open shortly after, pushing their lead from 13 to 20 points just before halftime.



The official scorekeeper didn’t credit McMillan with a block on the play, instead calling it a missed dunk, but McMillan knows what happened.

“That definitely was a block,” he said.

“Great play,” Phil Valenti added. “He does that kind of stuff all the time.”

All the time? Oh yeah, all the time.

“When things like that happen, I take it as a chance to make a great play,” McMillan said. “I jump up for everything. Trust me: everything.

“I’ve been dunked on, too. I’ve been on ESPN Top 10 before. That stuff like that doesn’t bother me at all. I jump for any and everything, and these guys will tell you, even in practice dudes have dunked on me before. But I don’t really look at it [like that]; it’s just a guy scored on me.”

So sure, the Griffs can light up the scoreboard on offense. They entered Saturday’ game 33rd nationally in scoring average at 83.9 points per game. But that doesn’t mean much unless it’s paired with good defense. And a commitment keeping the ball out of the basket is exactly with McMillan showed on that play.

“I have to step up and make plays like that to send a message to everybody else on the team,” he said. “That’s just stepping up and being a leader.”

Jim Baron interview

“Both teams went through exam week, so I was very, very concerned with this game coming in,” Baron said.

“But I thought we did a real good job – especially in the fist half – of defending and rebounding. That’s the thing I’ve been harping on with this basketball team: I mean, we can score, but we need to defend and rebound.”

Boston University coach Joe Jones was ejected from the game in the final two minutes. BU players and coaches did not meet with Buffalo media after the game.

Immediate reactions: Canisius 84, Boston University 68

Boston U 24 44 – 68
Canisius 43 41 – 84

By Nick Veronica

What it means: Exam week must’ve been rough at Boston University. The Terriers were flatter than week-old pop in the first half – committing 16 turnovers – and woke up only briefly after halftime before losing by 16.

Canisius snapped its three-game losing streak, which was only one off Jim Baron’s longest such streak at Canisius, and looked to get its defense back in order with two nonconference games remaining. Canisius improved to 4-6 while BU fell to 5-6.

How it happened: Canisius made BU pay for its miserable first half. Phil Valenti pushed the Griffs’ lead to double-digits midway through the first half with eight points in a span on 1 minute and 14 seconds while the Terriers averaged a turnover per minute for much of the opening 20 minutes. Canisius led by 19 at the break, which was its largest halftime lead in the last two seasons.

BU cut Canisius’ lead to eight points a few times in the final 10 minutes but never looked truly dangerous. BU finished with 24 turnovers.

Valenti led all players with 21 points while Malcolm McMillan had 20 and Kassius Robertson had 13. BU was led by Eric Fanning’s 18 points andJohn Papale’s 16. Canisius never trailed.

Glass men: Canisius’ offensive rebounding was on display Saturday as the Griffs finished with 21 offensive boards – one more rebounds than they corralled on the defensive end. Jamal Reynolds led the way with four offensive boards (and 12 total) while McMillan and Kevin Bleeker had three each.


Play of the day: Jermaine Crumpton fooled a defender with a slick fake pass and then calmly hit a wide-open three-pointer with 13 minutes left in the game. It was a nifty move from the big man, who has scored double-digit points in six of his seven games since returning from suspension.

Honorable mention: Kevin Bleeker swatted Kyle Foreman’s shot into the third row with 9 minutes to play.

T’d up, ejected: Crumpton and BU’s Nick Havener were given matching technical fouls with 6:24 to play. BU converted both free throws while McMillan hit 1 of 2 for Canisius. The replays didn’t show any egregious physical contact.

BU coach Joe Jones was ejected with 1:55 to play.

Valenti down, but OK: Valenti was down in pain after drawing a charge late in the first half. He appeared to be holding his chest or rib area. He was able to walk off the court. … He sat the last 1:46 of the first half but started the second half.

First time’s the charm: Jim Baron’s first game with Canisius was a home game against Boston University. The Griffs won, 83-75, behind 22 points from Harold Washington and 21 from Billy Baron.

Pedal to the floor?: Jones, the BU coach, was excited to be in Western New York, near his alma mater of SUNY Oswego. Jones, however, may have a significant case of lead foot. Cruise control is your friend, Joe.

Starters: Canisius – McMillan, Robertson, Reynolds, Valenti, Bleeker. BU – Papale, Mosley, Dieudonne, Foreman, Haines.

Refs: Brandon Cruz, Justin Simon, John Floyd.

Next: Tuesday vs. Louisiana-Monroe in Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, 5:30 p.m. ET. The Griffs have yet to win a game this year outside of the Koessler Athletic Center.

Postgame interviews: St. Bonaventure 60, UB 58

By Nick Veronica

St. Bonaventure guard Marcus Posley hit the game-winning shot to beat Big 4 rival UB Wednesday night, but he didn’t want any of the glory.

“All credit goes to Dion [Wright],” Posley said. “I don’t take any credit. Just because I hit that last shot doesn’t mean anything. Dion kept us in the game.”


Dion Wright

Wright had a night to remember, scoring a career-high 26 points to lead the Bonnies to their second consecutive win over UB, 60-58. The senior forward scored in a number ways, beating defenders for layups, floaters, hooks and runners while going 12-for-19 from the field.

“This dude’s crazy,” Posley said, estimating Wright has 10 different ways of finishing from close range. “He could throw the ball at the rim without looking and it would go in.”

“He’s got like the YMCA game a little bit,” UB coach Nate Oats said. “You don’t think he’s going to blow by you and then he’s to the rim finishing a second later.”

Wright kept it simple: “My teammates found me in positions where I was able to score. I just tried to make the most of opportunities when I caught the ball.”

“It wasn’t a pretty game,” coach Mark Schmidt said, “it was just two teams going at it. It wasn’t great execution at either end. We won the game not because of our offense, but I thought we defended so much better in the second half. … We didn’t play our best but we won on the road.”

UB interviews

“We shot 1-13 from 3, missed 13 free throws, it was bad,” UB coach Nate Oats said. “Twenty-one turnovers. I still can’t figure out how we were even in the game to be honest with you.”

Oats also took a little dig into his team’s decision-making.

“We got some young guys in the program who thought they’d figured out what a good shot was,” he said. “Apparently tonight we’re back to ground zero again and where they can’t remember what a good shot is and what a contested one is and [when] to make the one more pass and get your teammate a wide-open look. It was just bad on offense tonight.”

Immediate reactions: St. Bonaventure 60, UB 58

Bona 38 22 – 60
UB 33 25 – 58

By Nick Veronica

What it means: With the win, St. Bonaventure cemented itself as the Big 4’s top team for another season. The Bonnies beat Canisius and UB in a span of eight days and can sweep the season set from local opponents for the second consecutive year with a win over Niagara later this month.

UB’s three-game winning streak was ended as it fell to 4-3. Bona goes to 4-2.



How it happened: Marcus Posley hit a jumper from the top of the key with 10 seconds left and Derrick Woods blocked Lamonte Bearden’s layup at the buzzer to give St. Bonaventure an exciting win.

The Bonnies led by five with 2:30 left but inexcusably lost track of the shot clock on consecutive possessions and almost paid for it dearly. The first time it resulted in a desperate 3-point heave; the second led to a shot clock violation, after which Rodell Wigginton hit two free throws to tie the game.

Both teams started slow and never really got into rhythm, which was a stark contrast from UB’s 98-96 OT win against Canisius last weekend. The only player who really brought it from start to finish was St. Bonaventure’s Dion Wright, who dropped a career-high 26 points on 12-of-19 shooting. Posley added 13 points for St. Bonaventure while Idris Taqqee had seven rebounds.

Rodell Wigginton led UB with 16 points while Bearden had 12. Jarryn Skeete was shut out.

Game ball: Dion Wright. Wright got the Bonnies ahead early while almost everyone else in the game struggled, scoring 10 of Bona’s first 14 points. He sat early in the second half with three fouls but was a force UB didn’t have many answers for. Final line: 12-19 shooting, 2-2 free throws, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 3 steals.

Under the radar: UB’s CJ Massinburg. The freshman guard from Dallas impressed against Canisius last weekend and flashed a variety of moves Wednesday as well. He’s prone to the occasional head-scratching freshman play (lost the ball off his foot, bad turnover under his hoop), but you live with that when the kid only has seven games under his belt. Once he settles in to the pace of Division I he’ll be a nice player for Nate Oats and the Bulls.

Deep woes: Both teams struggled mightily from 3-point range, combining to shoot 3 for 34 (8.8%). UB made only one 3 in the game – Blake Hamilton’s with 13:37 to play. Skeete, normally the team’s top deep threat, attempted only one triple in the game.

Series history: This was just the 11th all-time meeting between these teams (UB wasn’t D-I until 1991). Bonaventure leads 8-3.

Vegas line: Line was St. Bonaventure -2. Push.

Starters: UB – Bearden, Conner, Skeete, Wigginton, Smart. Bona – Taqqee, Posley, Adams, Woods, Wright.

Next: UB goes to Duke on Saturday, where former AD Danny White would’ve played the school at which his father is AD. Bona hosts Ohio on Saturday.