By Nick Veronica
What it means: Canisius’ bigs stood up to the country’s top rebounding team and the Griffs beat a quality opponent without relying on Billy Baron.
Baron finished with 20 points but was the only player on the team to make less than half of his shots and most of his scoring came late in the game. Baron had only eight points in the first 30 minutes — the team was instead led offensively by freshman Zach Lewis, who paced Canisius with 17 points, including 14 in the first half.
Jordan Heath had 10 rebounds, Chris Manhertz had seven and Phil Valenti had six as Canisius and Quinnipiac grabbed 38 boards apiece. Quinnipiac entered the game first in the country averaging 47.1 rebounds per game. Canisius owns a half-game lead atop the MAAC at 9-2, but Iona (8-2) has a tough game Friday against Manhattan (7-3).
Threat Level Orange: Canisius has a bad habit of getting big leads and then losing them. I documented the problem here. The Griffs led by as many as 18 points Thursday night and had their lead cut down to two later in the game. We can expect things to start swinging back the other way at some point, but that the Griffs keep losing their entire cushion is concerning. They make things more difficult than they need to be. That’s a red flag come tournament time.
Foul trouble: One factor to losing leads is that the bigs, namely Chris Manhertz and Jordan Heath, have to sit with foul trouble. Canisius is less threatening on defense with those two on the bench and teams have a way of crawling back into the game when they’re forced to watch. Both Manhertz and Heath had four fouls Thursday and both played less than 20 minutes, but calls seemed to be going both ways at least, with Quinnipiac big men Ike Azotam and Ousmane Drame also picking up four fouls.
Scoring list: With 20 points, Baron’s scoring average dropped slightly to 24.0 points per game, but he’s still third nationally. Niagara’s Antoine Mason is first at 27.0 and Doug McDermott of Creighton is second at 25.0. Those numbers look nice, expect
Stats that were good: Dominique Raney scored nine points in 11 minutes, his highest point total since Dec. 8 (15 games) … Chris Perez had five assists, one off his season high, and added 15 points … Canisius held Quinnipiac’s best player, Azotam, below his scoring and rebounding averages … Canisius matched its season-long three-game winning streak.
Stats that were bad: Beside the foul trouble and lead blowing … QU’s Zaid Hearst dropped a career-high 33 points.
Next game: Canisius plays at Fairfield (4-17, 1-9) Saturday at 1 p.m.