Postgame video: Canisius 69, Saint Peter’s 55

By Nick Veronica

Interviews after Canisius’ 14-point win, which snapped a season-long, four-game losing streak…

Canisius coach Jim Baron

“This is a heck of a win for us,” Baron said.

“We executed. Got the ball inside, made the extra pass. We had 14 assists. We looked for each other and we played with confidence.”

Canisius players Jeremiah Williams and Josiah Heath

The last time Williams scored 20 points was … JUCO. Yeah, JUCO. OK, maybe high school.

Williams’ season-high his second year at Vincennes was 13 points, and Jon Snyder went through the box scores from his freshman year and said his high was 16. Looking like high school was the answer. Good game Sunday, though.

Josiah Heath is averaging a double-double since Phil Valenti was injured.

Saint Peter’s coach John Dunne

“You never wanna say you lost the game in the first eight, nine minutes — you want to be a better, grittier team than that — but at the end of the day, I think if we don’t miss those chippies (easy lay-ups) and keep it even, then it’s a game.”

Sure, John.


Immediate reactions: Canisius 69, Saint Peter’s 55

Saint Peter’s 18 37 — 55
Canisius 33 36 — 69

By Nick Veronica

How it happened: The temperatures Sunday may have been below zero, but Canisius’ shooting was hot. The Griffs made 56.5 percent of their shots in the first half and 50 percent overall — just shy of their best field-goal percentage of the season, 50.8 — against a Saint Peter’s team that entered the game first in the MAAC in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense and three-point percentage defense. The Griffs coasted to a 14-point win.

Jeremiah Williams led Canisius with a career-high 22 points, including 14 in the first half, while Josiah Heath had 15 and Kevin Bleeker had a season-high 10. Zach Lewis had his right wrist and thumb were taped up and took only six shots, matching his season-low.

Marvin Dominique led Saint Peter’s with 15 points, but Desi Washington (14.3 ppg) was held to three.

What it means: Canisius won its first game since losing Phil Valenti at the end of January and got back to .500 in the MAAC at 8-8 (13-12 overall) while Saint Peter’s fell to 13-14, 7-9. Canisius sits in sixth place with four games to go (and could move into a tie for fifth if Quinnipiac loses to Iona Sunday evening) and still has a chance to avoid the play-in game at the conference tournament, which pits seeds 6-11 against each other while seeds 1-5 have a first-round bye.

Heath trending up: Heath, one of Canisius’ two seniors, has stepped up his game as the calendar winds down on his collegiate eligibility. Not only is his physical presence become much more noticeable, Heath is averaging 12.4 points and 10.4 rebounds in the five games since Valenti was injured, up from his season averages of 8.3 ppg and 6.1 rpg.

Grzelinski trending down: Starting point guard Jan Grzelinski was held without a point for the fourth consecutive game and played only 11 minutes Sunday while sitting much of the second half. Grzelinski has shown promising flashes this year but has not been consistently effective. Williams started the second half Sunday and has been much more efficient. Baron just seems to like having Williams come off the bench.

Good first half: The 15-point halftime lead was Canisius’ largest of the season.

T’d up: Saint Peter’s Jamel Fields received a technical foul with 15:04 left in the game after angrily reacting to call on a ball that was deflected out of bounds. Zach Lewis missed both free throws.

Dunne denied 100th: Saint Peter’s coach John Dunne won his 99th career game Friday at Niagara but was denied his 100th win against Canisius. It’s strange to say a ninth-year coach is still looking for his 100th win. Most coaches don’t last that long. Dunne’s career record is 99-174.

Vegas line: Vegas Insider had Canisius -2.5 and over/under 115.5. Canisius covered; total was 124.

Next: Canisius travels to Siena on Thursday and Quinnipiac on Saturday.

Prescott, Fulton shoot Peacocks past Canisius

There was no miracle comeback this time.

Canisius trailed Saint Peter’s by 15 points with five minutes to play, just like the teams’ previous meeting ten days ago, but there were no heroics to bail out the Griffs Sunday afternoon on their home court.

Harold Washington said he needs more repetitions in the gym to get his scoring touch back.

Harold Washington did finish with 19 points but couldn’t duplicate the one-man comeback he led in Jersey City, N.J., scoring 13 points in 90 seconds to give the Griffs a chance to send the game to overtime at the buzzer.

Instead, Canisius got down and couldn’t recover, falling to the Peacocks 74-60 and dropping to 1-6 in conference play.

“I thought it was a tale of two games over the weekend,” Canisius coach Tom Parrotta said in light of his team’s victory over Marist on Friday. “I thought we took two steps in a positive direction Friday night and we took two back today, unfortunately.

“We were able to get a little bit of a lead, then we came out and they just … started making shots,” Parrotta said. “A lot of it was our defense, or lack thereof.”

The Griffs closed out the first half with a 12-0 run and went into the locker room up 31-25 but weren’t ready for what Saint Peter’s would throw at them in the second half.

A barrage of spot-on 3-pointers from Chris Prescott and Lamin Fulton gave the Peacocks the lead back just three minutes into the second half and were part of a 24-4 run that would put Saint Peter’s ahead comfortably for the rest of the game.

“I think [the game] was won in those first five minutes,” Saint Peter’s coach John Dunne said. “We were feeling really good after that. That’s what Chris Prescott and Lamin Fulton are capable of.”

Canisius started slow but went into halftime shooting 50 percent from the field (10-20) and 3-point range (2-4). The second half was another story: The Griffs made just seven of 30 field goals and finished the afternoon shooting 34 percent, 17 for 50.

Saint Peter’s was the opposite. After hitting just nine of 27 field goals in the first half, the Peacocks came out red hot in the second half, scoring on nine of their first ten possessions – and six of the nine scores were 3-pointers.

Washington had a tough day shooting – an ugly 3 of 18 from the field – but hurt the Peacocks from the free-throw line. Canisius couldn’t get to the line until the final seconds of the game Friday night against Marist but was able to create 31 free throw opportunities Sunday, with Washington hitting 12 of his 16 chances.

His shooting percentage has taken a hit since the New Year and Christmas break, and Washington says he needs more practice to get back on track.

“A lot of it is probably just me needing to get back into the gym,” Washington said. “That’s what it feels like. I’m getting open looks in space but I’m just not dropping them right now.”

Parrotta and the Griffs have four days to regroup before their matchup with rival Niagara Thursday night at the KAC, which is part of a double-header with the women’s teams. Niagara freshman Juan’ya Green, the MAAC’s leading scorer at 19.2 points per game, leads his team into the game on a two-game winning streak – which includes a 85-73 Purple Eagle victory over Saint Peter’s Friday night.

Griffs’ would-be astonishing comeback falls just short

The way the game had been going, it was hard to believe the Griffs were in a position to send it to overtime at the buzzer. It was harder to believe they were going to let Harold Washington take the decisive shot.

As highlighted Thursday night in the Yanitelli Center, the Griffs will go as Harold Washington goes.

The 3-pointer would have given Washington 17 points on the night and tied the game at 64. That’s something for a Canisius team that trailed by 15 points on the road with five minutes to play, and that’s really something for a player who didn’t make a shot until there was 3:14 left in the game.

Washington had hit a 3-pointer, a jumper, four free throws and two layups all in the last minute and a half. Ninety percent of the game, you would have been crazy to think the JUCO transfer would hit the biggest shot of the night. Now you’d be crazy to think the MAAC’s second-leading scorer would miss.

But Washington’s heroics would fall shot — in the case of his final shot, about four feet short — and Saint Peter’s would hit a free throw with six-tenths of a second left to seal a 65-61 win that dropped Canisius to 0-4 in conference play.

When Griffs brought their 3-10 record to Jersey City, N.J. to square off with the 2-12 Saint Peter’s Peacocks, both teams had to be thinking it was a game they could win.

When Saint Peter’s coach John Dunne started the game with four guards, he was ready to fight Canisius’ fire — sharpshooters Washington and Alshwan Hymes — with fire of his own.

With the Peacocks’ big man Darius Conley matched up on Chris Manhertz, it left Josiah Heath and Kevin Bleeker with advantages on the inside. Looking to further exploit Saint Peter’s lack of height on the floor, Canisius coach Tom Parrotta even sent his scarcely used senior, 7-foot-3 Marial Dhal, in for the most minutes he’s seen since Thanksgiving.

But it wasn’t enough. The Griffs, who jumped out to a 5-0 lead and led nearly all of the first half, went cold over the final two minutes of the first frame as Saint Peter’s closed out the half on a 7-0 run to take a 27-25 edge into the locker room.

Washington and Hymes went scoreless in the first half, shooting 0-for-5 from the field and committing five turnovers. Gaby Belardo, who promised his Facebook following earlier this week that he would push through the back pain and “go back to the old Gaby Belardo,” stayed true to his word, leading the Griffs with 10 points at the break.

It looked like things would start going Canisius’ way when Conley took a seat with his third foul just three minutes into the second half. Hymes hit a 3-pointer a minute later, and then two more to tie the score at 34 with 13:13 to play.

But just like that, the magic was gone. Saint Peter’s started hitting shots while the Griffs missed eight over an eight-minute stretch that produced a 22-6 run for the Peacocks.

The game was getting out of hand. Canisius trailed 56-40 and Washington still hadn’t made a shot. This was the only game all season he hadn’t started (he missed practice time this week due to a death in the family) and it was starting to look as if the 18.6 ppg player might be shut out completely.

Finally, 36 minutes and 46 seconds into the game, Washington got a shot to fall. And then another. And another.

First he cut the deficit to 10. Then it was a two possession game, and then a one possession game. With 25 seconds to play, Washington cut through the lane and scored to bring the Griffs within one, 62-61 — giving Canisius a 21-6 run of its own.

Brandon Hall hit two free throws to make it a three-point game as the Griffs came up the court with the shot clocks turned off. Hymes couldn’t get free and gave the ball to Washington, who let go of a deep 3-pointer.

He had hit eight shots in a row, including free throws, but came up one short as his air ball spelled the end of a near-miraculous comeback for the Griffs.

Hymes led all players with 15 points while Lamin Fulton had 14 for Saint Peter’s. Belardo finished with 13 points in 33 minutes of action, his most game time since the opener against James Madison. Manhertz finished with four points and 11 boards while Heath grabbed five rebounds in just 12 minutes of action. It is unclear if he suffered an injury or if Parrotta just did not want to his him most of the second half, but Heath was not in foul trouble.

The Griffs will look for their first MAAC win of the season Saturday afternoon when they take on Loyola of Maryland (10-4, 3-1). The Greyhounds are led by sophomore Dylon Cormier (16.1 ppg) and defeated Manhattan 61-60 Thursday night. Tip-off is set for noon in  Reitz Arena.