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.