Rider 30 31 – 61
Canisius 34 33 – 67
By Nick Veronica
What it means: Canisius ended its four-game losing streak and beat a hot Rider team to pick up a valuable win in the logjammed lower half of the MAAC standings, where seeds four through nine are separated by only a game and a half.
Rider had won six of its last eight games before Sunday while Canisius had dropped four in a row and eight of 11.
Canisius also ended its home losing streak, which had reached five straight conference games. Six in a row would’ve matched the longest home conference losing streak from the 2011-12 season, when the Griffs went 5-25 and 1-17 in the MAAC.
How it happened: Canisius got good production from both the usual suspects and key reserves and played good enough defense to win, despite a late scare.
Canisius led by as many as 14 points midway through the second half before Rider trimmed the deficit to three in the final minute. Malcolm McMillan banked in a nice scoop shot with 19.5 seconds left and drew a foul to help seal the victory.
Junior transfer Keifer Douse, making his fourth start, scored a career-high 12 points while Cassidy Ryan had a career-best 11. Kassius Robertson led Canisius with 19 points after dropping 24 on the Broncs a week ago. Khalil Thomas led Rider with 19 points.
Canisius goes to 11-14, 5-8 MAAC while Rider is now 10-15, 6-8.
Under pressure: Canisius pressed most of the first half and some of the second half against a Rider team playing its fifth game in 11 days. Rider was able to break free on offense early but the pressure finally started to pay off with about eight minutes left in the first half, producing an 11-0 run that put Canisius ahead 30-23. Rider finished with 17 turnovers to Canisius’ seven.
Defense steps up: Canisius entered the game 335th nationally in field-goal percentage defense and 323rd in 3-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot 48.4 percent on the season and 38.0 percent on 3s. The Griffs, aided by their pressure, were much better on D Sunday, holding Rider to 39 percent shooting and just 5 of 26 (19.2%) on 3-pointers.
T’d up: Phil Valenti received a technical foul from Jeff Anderson for yelling about a non-call while walking to the locker room before halftime. … Teddy Okereafor hit both free throws before the second half. Rider started with the ball but didn’t score on its first possession.
Bye, Felicia: It was a small crowd at the Koessler Athletic Center Sunday, so taunts from the stands were easily heard. Anderson threatened to eject a fan at halftime and ref Andrew Maira followed through shortly after. Later, Jim Baron’s brother, Ed, was sent home early.
Good news for the other Broncs? Sunday’s game marked the 14th time the Griffs have played on Super Bowl Sunday. The AFC champion won the Super Bowl all three times Canisius and Rider met on the day of the game. Canisius is now 5-9 on Super Bowl Sunday.
Vegas line: Canisius -1.5, over/under 143. Canisius covered, total was 128.
Starters: Canisius – Malcolm McMillan, Keifer Douse, Kassius Robertson, Phil Valenti, Kevin Bleeker. Rider – Thomas Kahlil, Zedric Sadler, Jimmie Taylor, Teddy Okereafor, Anthony Durham.
Refs: Jeffrey Anderson, Ron Tyburski, Andrew Maira.
Next: Canisius visits Siena on Thursday, tip at 7 p.m.Follow @NickVeronica