Marist upsets Quinnipiac, St. Peter’s blows out Fairfield in MAAC Tournament

2015_maac_tournament_bracket_day1

By Nick Veronica

Eleventh-seeded Marist pulled an 80-74 upset on No. 6 Quinnipiac Thursday night in the MAAC Tournament’s play-in round, ending the season for the nation’s top rebounding team.

Chavaughn Lewis led Marist with 26 points and became the school’s career scoring leader during the game. He now has 2,071 career points.

Quinnipiac senior Ousmane Drame went out like a warrior with 27 points and 23 rebounds in 37 minutes of action. Zaid Hearst scored 16 points in his final collegiate game but was just 4 of 18 shooting.

Khallid Hart added 18 points for Marist, which shot 52 percent from the field and a blistering 68.4 percent from three-point range (13-19).

Marist will face Manhattan Saturday in the quarterfinals.

Fairfield limps out of tournament


Fairfield managed only seven points in the first half of a conference tournament game and will have all summer to think about it.

Seventh-seeded Saint Peter’s coasted to a 63-33 win over 10th-ranked Fairfield Thursday at the Times Union Center in Albany.

Quadir Welton and Trevis Wyche both came off the bench to lead Saint Peter’s in scoring with 13 and 12 points, respectively, as 10 different Peacocks scored and 14 saw action.

Marcus Gilbert led Fairfield with 12 points.

Saint Peter’s will play second-seeded Rider at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Niagara was eliminated from the tournament earlier Thursday, losing to Siena, 71-54.

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.

Niagara wins conference opener vs. Saint Peter’s, 61-59

By Nick Veronica

Rayvon Harris scored 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting to lead Niagara past Saint Peter’s Thursday night, 61-59, in the country’s earliest conference game this season.

niagara_logo_bigSaint Peter’s trailed by 12 points, 53-41, with 6:52 to go, but came back to take a 59-58 lead when Tyler Gaskins hit a three-pointer with 1:23 remaining.

Karonn Davis answered with a three for Niagara, and neither team would score the rest of the way as the Peacocks’ Chazz Patterson missed a game-tying jumper with nine seconds remaining.

Niagara, picked last in the MAAC preseason poll, now sits atop the conference standings at 1-0 and 1-1 overall. The next MAAC game isn’t until Dec. 3, when Canisius travels to Saint Peter’s.

Marvin Dominique led the Peacocks (0-3) with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Gaskins had 16 points.

Ramone Snowden added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Niagara. Wesley Myers was 1 for 7 from the field after going 2 for 8 in the opener, though he added seven rebounds and four assists Thursday.

The Purple Eagles were 5 for 14 from three-point range after going 0 for 14 against Pitt last Friday.

Starters: Niagara – Rayvon Harris, Ramone Snowden, Emile Blackman, Karonn Davis, Wesley Myers. Saint Peter’s – Marvin Dominique, Tyler Gaskins, Chazz Patterson, Trevis Wyche, Quadir Welton.

Next: Niagara returns to nonconference action with a 7 p.m. home game on Saturday against Hartford.

Niagara upsets Marist, Saint Peter’s wins in OT, Rider advances

By Nick Veronica

Antoine Mason scored 38 points to lead 11th-seeded Niagara to a 78-76 upset of 6-Marist late Thursday night in the play-in round of the MAAC Tournament.

The Purple Eagles led by as many as 24 points in the second half but had to hold on as Chavuaghn Lewis led a rally to get Marist back within two points on several occasions in the final 90 seconds. Lewis finished with 26 points and Khallid Hart had 20. Marcus Ware chipped in with 14 points for the Purps (7-25).

Niagara will face third-seeded Quinnipiac at 9 p.m. Saturday.

In other play-in round action, Saint Peter’s needed overtime to dispatch No. 10 Fairfield, 65-62. Desi Washington hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to win the game. He led the Peacocks with 14 points while Maurice Barrow came off the bench to lead Fairfield with 14 points.

Danny Stewart had 25 points and 9 rebounds to lead Rider past Monmouth, 71-60.

Here’s what the bracket looks like for Saturday’s quarterfinals (click to expand):

maactrn2014

Notes:

  • Canisius meets Siena at 2:30 Saturday. Saints freshman Lavon Long: “Stop Baron, and we’re most likely going to win.”
  • Billy Baron: “Canisius is home now. It’s a small school with a big heart.”
  • Canisius is last in the conference in rebounding. What does that mean for the tournament?
  • Looks like the Niagara women were on the wrong end of some bad officiating. The Canisius women open at 2:30 p.m. Friday against Quinnipiac.
  • MAAC awards are announced Friday night. My picks:
    • Player of the Year: Billy Baron, Canisius. It’s between Baron and Manhattan’s George Beamon, but Baron’s the guy.
    • Rookie of the Year: Khallid Hart, Marist.
    • Coach of the Year: Tom Moore, Quinnipiac.
    • Sixth Player of the Year: Maurice Barrow, Marist (close between him and Siena’s Evan Hymes).
    • Defensive Player of the Year: It’s a crapshoot, really. I’d guess Chris Perez is in the mix but I don’t know. Manhattan’s Rhamel Brown is third nationally in blocks so lets go with him.

I’m heading down for the tournament this weekend. Check back for live blogs and coverage of all the action here and on Twitter. 

Immediate reactions: Canisius 67, Saint Peter’s 63

How it happened: This game appeared to be over in the first half as Canisius blew the game open early and matched its biggest halftime lead of the season at 21 points, 43-22. But the tide turned in the second half and this one quickly turned into a nail-biter for Jim Baron and the Griffs as they struggled to shake off their halftime slumber and Saint Peter’s came out firing on all cylinders.

Saint Peter’s leading scorer Marvin Dominique had a chance to tie the game at 57 with 4:45 to play but only hit one of two free throws. A layup from Desi Washington cut it to 62-60 with 47 seconds to play, but freshman Zach Lewis answered with a three-pointer that sealed the deal for Canisius.

Canisius (9-5, 3-0) was led by 25 points from Billy Baron, who scored 18 in the first half. Chris Manhertz had 12 and Chris Perez had 11. Dominique led all players with 26 and added 10 rebounds while Washington had 14 points and Chris Burke had 12.

What it means: Canisius is 3-0 in the MAAC for the first time since the 1994-95 season — when they opened 5-0 in the conference and later advanced to the NIT — but what a way to do it. Canisius never trailed in the contest but snoozed through most of the second half, where they were outscored 41-24 and outrebounded 21-11.

After a first half that saw Saint Peter’s coach John Dunne take two timeouts before the first media timeout — his team fell behind 12-0 early and later 28-5 — you figured the ebb-and-flow of the game had to swing back at some point, but Canisius’ inability to slow the momentum in the least bit was concerning. A road win in the conference is a road win in the conference, but playing a full 40 minutes or finding that killer instinct to really put a team away — whichever bit of coachspeak you prefer — is still something we’re looking for out of the Griffs on a regular basis.

Secondary scoring? Baron led the way with 25 but had only 7 after halftime and didn’t score in the last eight minutes. That was OK though, because after Baron’s last bucket with 8:09 to play, Manhertz scored six points (including a big dunk-and-one), and Lewis hit a big three-pointer.

Rebounding? Canisius dominated rebounds in the first half, 21-13. That lead evaporated midway through the second half, and Saint Peter’s eventually won the rebounding battle, 34-32. Manhertz and Jordan Heath pulled in seven each. Canisius was also dominated on the glass after halftime against Notre Dame, where the Irish pulled in 24 rebounds to Canisius’ 10 in the second half and overtime.

Stats that were good: Canisius matched its season-best halftime lead of 21 points … Billy Baron has five assists and four steals … Zach Lewis played 26 minutes, which matched his season high, excluding overtime games … the Griffs shot 90 percent from the free-throw line.

Stats that were bad: Billy Baron had a season-high six turnovers … Canisius nearly lost a game in which it led by 24 points.

Noteworthy: Kevin Bleeker missed his eighth straight game as he recovers from an ankle injury … If you’re looking around the MAAC, Iona had a 26-point lead on Niagara at halftime and held it, winning 118-92 (at home, though).

Next game: Canisius travels to Marist (5-9, 1-2) at 7 p.m. Monday.