Immediate reactions: Canisius 83, Holy Cross 73

How it happened: Billy Baron had a season-high 31 points and was a perfect 13-for-13 from the free-throw line in front of friends and family in Worcester, Mass., where he attended prep school. The 31 points were two shy of Baron’s career record and his 13 free throws marked a new single-game high.

Canisius gave up a 15-2 run after jumping out to a 6-0 lead, but took the lead back with an 11-0 run shortly after. Coach Jim Baron switched from man defense to a 2-3 zone after Holy Cross took the lead despite going 0-for-5 on three-pointers, and the zone was effective. Canisius never trailed in the second half and improved to 7-4. Dave Dudzinski led Holy Cross with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

What it means: The Griffs rebounded from one of their worst performances of the season with a solid win. Baron was in fine form, leading the way in scoring and also tying a career high nine rebounds. He hit a deep three-pointer after Holy Cross had cut it to 65-62 that put effectively put the Crusaders away. Jordan Heath entered the game hitting just 33.3 percent of his free throws, but hit five of six in the last minute to wrap the game up cleanly. At 7-4, the Griffs are only one game back of where they were through 11 games last season.

Secondary scoring? Heath’s free throws bumped him up to 15 points while Chris Perez had 14 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Zach Lewis added 8 off the bench.

Rebounding? Canisius outrebounded an opponent for the fourth time this season, grabbing 38 boards to Holy Cross’ 31, but Baron was the team’s leading rebounder for the second game in a row. Heath and Chris Manhertz combined for 11 rebounds while Baron had nine. Holy Cross pulled in 10 offensive rebounds, the fewest Canisius has held an opponent to this season.

T Party: Canisius coach Jim Baron picked up a technical foul in the first half for arguing a foul call and Phil Valenti got one shortly after. Even with the bonus free throws, Canisius led 42-39 at halftime. Fouls in this game were called aggravatingly tight, with teams combining for 54 free throws.

Stats that were good: Billy Baron’s line: 31 points, nine rebounds, five assists, one steal, three turnovers.

Stats that were bad: Dominique Raney was shut out for the first time this season.

Noteworthy: Kevin Bleeker missed his fifth straight game with an ankle injury … Now at 7-4, Canisius will go into the New Year with a winning record for the second season in a row.

Next game: Canisius hosts Lamar (1-8) at 4:15 p.m. Saturday.


Canisius vs. Holy Cross gameday 12/16/13

Canisius finishes its road trip tonight with a 7 p.m. game against Holy Cross of the Patriot League.

UPDATE: Here’s live video

The teams: Canisius: 6-4, 2-0 MAAC, 1-3 road. RPI: 143. Streak: Lost one.

Holy Cross: 5-4, 0-0 Patriot, 2-0 home. RPI: 160. Streak: Lost one.

Previous game: Canisius lost an ugly, 67-51 game to St. Francis Brooklyn on Saturday. The Griffs made just two three-pointers and no player scored more than 11 points.

Holy Cross last played on Dec. 7, losing 90-78 to Hartford despite shooting 61.7 percent from the floor. Hartford shot 58.5 percent and got to the free-throw line 26 times.

About Holy Cross6-foot-9, 227-pound senior Dave Dudzinski leads the Crusaders at 17.6 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game and recently reached 1,000 points for his career. He also leads the team in three-pointers made, because guard Cullen Hamilton (16.2 ppg) hasn’t played this month, reportedly due to a torn patellar tendon. 6-7, 195-pound freshman Malachi Alexander adds 11.0 points per game.

Holy Cross is coached by Milan Brown.

Series history: Holy Cross has a 13-4 series lead, but the teams haven’t played since 1990. Jim Baron went 1-1 against Holy Cross while at Rhode Island.

Noteworthy: Rebounding could turn the tide in this game, because neither team is used to grabbing very many. Both Holy Cross and Canisius enter tonight averaging 32.1 rebounds per game, which puts them 316th and 317th in the country, respectively. If the Crusaders have a slow start to the game because of their long layoff, the Griffs need to be ready to pounce.

Immediate reactions will be posted at the conclusion of the game. Check out this Twitter list for Canisius hoops chatter and use #Griffs to join in the conversation.