Canisius basketball throws away passes, victory

All Gaby Belardo could do was sit and watch as his team let an upset of the Rider Broncs slip through its fingers last night at the Koessler Athletic Center.

Harold Washington scored 15 points and even pulled down 10 rebounds last night for his first career double-double.

The junior guard has battled through a back injury all season to try to give some quality minutes to a team struggling to remain competitive. But after receiving an injection Wednesday that hadn’t taken full effect, coaches decided Thursday morning to hold him out and get him ready for Saturday’s matchup with Siena.

Belardo watched his team control the first half and walked to the locker room with them at halftime leading 34-29. He watched his team continue to outscore Rider deep into the second half, going up as many as 10 points with 7:19 to play.

But when the Broncs went to a full-court press, Belardo wished he could have been out there, giving his team a veteran presence it desperately needed. Instead, he could only watch as the Griffs turned the ball over on five straight possessions while Rider ripped off a 13-0 run, taking its first lead of the night with 1:38 left and securing 71-66 the win, sinking the Griffs to 4-20 overall and 1-13 in MAAC play.

“It was hard at the end because we needed a ball handler and I wasn’t there,” Belardo said. “Those last two minutes I think the team needed me and I feel bad I wasn’t with my teammates.

“I hate sitting down, even when my back is feeling bad I still want to play. Coach [Tom Parrotta] told me to take the day off and be ready for Siena but it hurts a lot just watching my teammates giving 110 percent and not winning. I feel bad. I kind of feel like I let my team down but we’re definitely going to get this win on Saturday.”

On a night when it looked like the Griffs would pick up their second win of the calendar year, the end result was instead a collapse that extended the team’s losing streak to eight games. The Broncs’ Novar Gadson led all players with 19 points.

“We kind of went into a lull,” said junior Harold Washington, who had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds but also was charged with the first two turnovers during the Griffs’ collapse. “Nobody could find their scoring touch. We were kind of desperate for a basket so sometimes we find ourselves forcing the issue a little bit. Once they began to full-court press us, I think we kind of broke down a little mentally and started playing to their hands and started to panic, and that’s what led to the back-to-back turnovers.”

The Griffs were two guards down last night without Belardo and Reggie Groves, who had his suspension lifted by Parrotta earlier this week but did not get into the game. Lack of depth has been an issue for Canisius all season, bust last night, the opponent was shorthanded as well.

The mysterious gastrointestinal virus afflicting students at Princeton and Rider universities hit the Rider basketball team, Broncs coach Tommy Dempsey said, as bench players Eddie Mitchell and Junior Fortunat were “struck ill” on the bus ride to Buffalo. The players combine to score over eight points per game but will remain secluded from the team until cleared to play by doctors. Dempsey hopes they will able to play in the second game of the trip against Niagara.

The low point of the game came with 18 seconds left after Rider’s Novar Gadson hit a free throw to put his team up two possessions, 67-63. Parrotta took his last timeout to draw up a play and sent freshman Tyler Funk to inbound the ball. When Funk couldn’t find a man, he tried to call a timeout, but was assessed a technical foul because Canisius didn’t have any left to take.

Parrotta took responsibility for the play after the game, saying he shouldn’t have put a player in that situation who wasn’t ready for it, but when Jeff Jones hit both ensuing free throws the game was essentially out of reach.

Belardo gets back to action Saturday afternoon when the Siena Saints come to the KAC. He may be hoping for a repeat of the last time Siena visited Canisius – Belardo hit the game-winning shot with 11 seconds left to knock off the three-time defending champs.

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Griffs match last season’s loss total in blowout

After being embarrassed by Niagara on its home court Thursday, the Canisius basketball team at least did its fans a favor Sunday afternoon by going on the road for its next beat down.

The Rider Broncs dominated Canisius start to finish in Lawrenceville, N.J., pushing their lead to as many as 30 in the second half before downing the Griffs 89-65. The loss dropped Tom Parrotta’s team to 1-9 in MAAC play and 4-15 overall, matching their loss total from all of last season.

Brandon Penn had 25 points and Novar Gadson had 22 as the Broncs knocked down half of their field goals (29 for 58) while holding Canisius to 34.9 percent from the floor and 29.4 percent from behind the arc.

The Griffs were held scoreless for the first five minutes while Rider built a 10-0 lead. A 3-pointer from Gaby Belardo with 7:44 left in the first half brought Canisius back within one possession at 19-16, but the Broncs then ripped off a 15-0 run that the Griffs would never recover from.

Canisius was nearly doubled at halftime, 43-22, and the 21-point deficit matched its largest at the break this season. The Broncs literally were twice as good as Canisius in the first half, making double the amount of field goals (12 to six) and missing only half as many (13 to 26).

A 12-0 run in the second half put Rider up 30 points, 79-49, before it coasted to a 24-point win. Harold Washington hit 9 of 15 shots to finish with 22 points and five assists while Gaby Belardo hit 7 of 15 for 19 points. Alshwan Hymes finished with 10 points but made only two of his 14 3-point attempts.

The Broncs came into the game ahead of Canisius in the MAAC standings but both teams had had their share of struggles this season, losing 14 games apiece. Yet, even on a three-game losing streak, it was Tommy Dempsey’s squad that came out ready to play and improved to 4-5 in the MAAC and 7-14 overall. Tom Parrotta’s Griffs fell 11 games below .500 (4-15) and need to win out to match their conference record from last season (9-9).

Late lead disappears as buzzer-beater crushes Griffs

Everyone else was long-gone from the Koessler Athletic Center after a heartbreaking 77-76 loss to Rider Sunday afternoon, but Gaby Belardo remained.

The redshirt sophomore stood on the free-throw line at the southeast end of the empty gymnasium, where he knocked down shot after shot from the exact spot he missed from with 11.3 seconds left in the game.

For the second year in a row, Coles dropped 20 points on Rider at the KAC. Coles and Rider's Justin Robinson attended Blair Academy together.

The Broncs’ Mike Ringgold brought the ball into the frontcourt as the seconds dwindled down. He tripped, and then regained his balance before putting up a wild layup. Justin Robinson got the rebound, and put up a jumper that didn’t come close to hitting the net.

The air ball landed right in the hands of Novar Gadson with .7 seconds remaining. The Rider junior banked the ball off the backboard and into the hoop with no time left.

The Broncs dog-piled on Gadson while the rest of the gym went silent. The referees went to the monitor to make sure Gadson got the shot off in time—he did—before running to the locker room amid a chorus of boos from the 919 in attendance. They weren’t so much mad about the last call, but how the game ended up and the series of calls that led to the finale.

With the shot clock turned off and Canisius up by one, a loose ball went out of play and was awarded to Rider, much to the dismay of the crowd. Robinson got the ball on the inbound and missed a 3-point shot. The rebound came to Belardo, who raced down the court with a clear path to the hoop.

The Broncs’ Danny Stewart was able to catch Belardo and did whatever he could to foul him. The referees put Belardo on the line for a one-and-one, instead of calling an intentional foul that would have given Canisius two shots.

Belardo’s first shot rimmed out, and the rest is history.

Head coach Tom Parrotta and Belardo both acknowledged that an intentional foul should have been called, and that they thought going for the basket with 12 seconds left instead of going into the corner to try to kill more time was the right play given the situation.

“I was wide open,” Belardo said.

“I think clearly, it was a layup,” Parrotta reiterated. “He was wide open, and I don’t think you could get a better shot than that.”

Canisius started off the game on a 9-0 run and led by as many as 12 in the first half before taking a six-point lead into the locker room at 42-36. Led by senior Greg Logins’ 14 points, 42 marked the highest first-half production for the Griffs all season.

Senior Rob Goldsberry got hit in the face by Gadson early in the second half after a scramble for a loose ball that was not called during the play. After a monitor review, officials assessed Gadson an intentional foul and awarded Goldsberry two foul shots, which he hit.

Under previous rules, the only call that could come from a monitor review was a flagrant foul (and subsequent ejection; much like what happen to Canisius in last year’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament), or no foul at all. However, the NCAA changed that rule this season.

Since the foul was not called when it happened, play was allowed to continue and Gadson’s basket from that possession counted. According to NCAA Rule 2, Section 13, Article 6, “Any previous activity before the monitor review shall not be canceled or nullified.”

The Griffs led by 11 points with 15:27 to play, but five missed shots and six fouls later, Canisius found itself on the wrong end of a 14-0 run that put Rider in front, 59-56, with 12 minutes to play.

The rest of the game was hard-fought as neither team could pull away by more than four points.

Five straight points from senior Julius Coles gave Canisius the lead at 76-75 with 1:40 left, but those would be the last points the Griffs would score on the night.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” a lifeless Coles said after the game. “We worked so hard out there, we gave it our all, and we don’t have anything to show for it.”

Rider, which came into the contest top-10 in the country in 3-point percentage, hit 11 of 22 from behind the arc. Canisius shot 49.2 percent from the field and committed a season-low seven turnovers, but gave up 15 offensive rebounds.

Coles finished with 20 points and Logins finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. Senior Elton Frazier had 12 while Goldsberry had nine assists and no turnovers. For the Broncs, Robinson finished with 19 and Mike Ringgold had 17.

The loss drops Canisius to 7-8 on the year and just 1-4 in the MAAC, while Rider improves to 4-1 in conference play (12-5 overall). Dating back to 2006, Canisius has dropped 24 straight Sunday games.

“We haven’t performed up to our own expectations, and here we are, we’re 1-4 in the league,” Parrotta said. “It’s our intention to keep getting better. We’re clearly not there yet, but I have faith in these guys.”