Marist 41 34 — 75
Canisius 35 32 — 67
By Nick Veronica
How it happened: Canisius’ defense was a step and a half too slow Sunday afternoon, presenting opportunities even the MAAC’s worst offensive team could exploit. Marist picked up its third-straight win in the 75-67 decision, led by a career-high 35 points from Chavaughn Lewis, the MAAC’s fourth-leading scorer (and he did it on 14-of-16 shooting!).
Marist entered the Koessler Athletic Center last in the conference in scoring average (59.3 ppg, 331st nationally), last in field goal percentage (.387, 333rd nationally) and second-last in three-point percentage (.313). But Canisius, playing its first full game without forward Phil Valenti, looked a bit confused on defense and allowed Marist to shoot 54.3 percent en route to its second-highest offensive output of the season.
Zach Lewis led Canisius with 19 points on 19 shots while Jermaine Crumpton had a career-high 18 points. Canisius killed Marist in rebounds, 53-29, including 28 on the offensive end.
[Postgame interviews: Baron, Crumpton, Lewis, Maker]
What it means: Marist isn’t the worst team in the conference — it won the cellar-dweller battle with Niagara on Friday — but it is certainly near the bottom, which should have presented a good opportunity for Canisius to iron out its new wrinkles sans Valenti. But Jim Baron and the Griffs will need to get back to the ironing board — er, drawing board — after the ugly loss that dropped them to 12-9 and 7-5 in the MAAC. The win was only Marist’s fourth of the season (4-18, 3-10), but the Red Foxes have now won three in a row, beating Fairfield, Niagara and Canisius.
It was over when: A three-pointer from Crumpton cut the deficit to 67-62 with 1:23 to go and Canisius’ press forced Marist into a travel. Josiah Heath got the play he wanted on the ensuing possession and backed down his man nicely but couldn’t hit a layup with 1:10 left. Marist recovered the ball and iced the game with free throws shortly after.
New lineup, roles: With Valenti out, Crumpton got his first career start and several players saw a spike in their minutes. Crumpton’s final line was 6-10 from the field, 1-3 on three-pointers, 5-9 at the line, four rebounds, two assists and no fouls in 28 minutes. Heath grabbed 17 rebounds — one shy of his career-best, though many came off his own misses — and Cassidy Ryan got in the game sooner than usual. The Griffs switched men on Chavaughn Lewis and flipped from man to zone but couldn’t find an answer for the senior swingman. The Griffs may have been able to cover Valenti’s absence in the rebounding department Sunday, but they need more work defining their new defensive roles.
Valenti update: Valenti had his right leg in a boot during Sunday’s game and was on crutches. He is scheduled for an MRI on Monday and is feared to be lost for the season. Team sources confirmed that Valenti suffered a dislocated ankle, which trainers were able to pop back in place on the court before wheeling the redshirt sophomore out of the gym. His X-rays Friday showed no broken bones.
Stat check: Outside of Crumpton, Canisius starters Lewis, Heath, Jan Grzelinksi and Jamal Reynolds combined to go 12-for-46 from the field (26%).
Vegas line: Vegas Insider had Canisius -10.5 just before tip after opening at Canisius -14. Over/under was 123.5. Marist covered; total was 142.
Next: Canisius travels to Manhattan on Friday for a 7 p.m. game. Manhattan is the only team picked in the top five of the MAAC Preseason Poll that Canisius has not beaten this season.