Three Canisius players scored in double figures, led by junior Alshwan Hymes and team-high 23 points, as the Golden Griffins snapped their 10-game losing streak with a 73-66 win over UMBC Saturday afternoon in the Koessler Athletic Center. Canisius improved to 5-22 with the win, while UMBC slipped to 4-23. The game between the two teams was part of the 2012 Sears BracketBusters series.
Hymes had his 23 points after he went 9-for-16 from the field and 5-for-11 from 3-point land. He also added six rebounds and two assists to his final stat line. Junior Harold Washington scored 16 points to go with four boards and three assists, and sophomore forward Chris Manhertz ended the contest with his fourth double-double of the season after he scored 11 points and collected 10 rebounds. As a team, Canisius shot 50 percent from the field and held a 37-33 advantage on the glass.
UMBC sophomore forward Chase Plummer scored a game-high 24 points and recorded a career-high 14 rebounds in the loss for the Retrievers, which have now lost eight of their last nine, dating back to Jan. 22. Junior Brian Neller posted 14 points in the loss for UMBC, while teammate Ryan Cook chipped in 13 points. As a team, the Retrievers shot 37.5 percent from the floor and got just two points off the bench against Canisius' 16.
"These BracketBuster games are always tricky because you are forced to change gears from playing MAAC schools you know well and now you are forced to play a team you don't know much about," Canisius head coach Tom Parrotta said. "In all honesty, I think we won this game two days ago in practice. We came off a tough, emotional overtime loss at Niagara and we were ready to go at practice on Thursday. Our guys have been working hard and preparing the right way. It is a good feeling to get a win, and it is a rewarding feeling because no one on this team has mailed it in. We go out there every night and play hard."
Canisius broke the game open midway through the first half with a 17-3 run that turned a 14-14 tie into a 31-17 Griff lead with 6:45 left before the halftime break. In that run, Hymes hit three 3-point field goals and Washington posted four points for the Blue and Gold. After UMBC made the score 31-19 on a Jarrel Lane jumper, Canisius pressed forward and extended its cushion to 38-20 with a 7-1 run over the next 1:49, capped by a 3-point field goal from freshman guard Franklin Milian. The Griffs held a 43-28 lead at halftime, the team's largest halftime advantage this season, after the Blue and Gold shot 50 percent from the field, 43.8 percent from 3-point land and 100 percent from the free-throw line in the opening 20 minutes.
The Retrievers came out of the locker room and jumped on Canisius by scoring the second half's first seven points to make the score 43-35 with 18:04 left on the clock, with Neller accounting for five of UMBC's points in that scoring run. Canisius worked its lead back to double-digits at 13 with a 48-35 advantage, but UMBC made another move and got within six points at 48-42 with 12:38 left in the game. The Griffs' margin hovered around nine for the better part of the next six minutes, but once again, UMBC made it a six-point affair with 4:55 left to play after Jake Wasco hit a pair of free-throws to make the score 60-54. Canisius led 64-57 with 3:03 left to play before UMBC hit four-straight free-throws to cut the Griffs' cushion to just three at 64-61. On the next possession, Washington knifed through the paint and laid one off the glass to give Canisius a 66-61 lead, and following a Retriever turnover, sophomore guard Reggie Groves hit a jumper in the middle of the lane get the host team back to a seven-point margin at 68-61 to essentially seal the win.
Belardo had seven points, five assists and four rebounds for Canisius, while freshman Josiah Heath posted eight points, six boards and two blocks off the bench. Groves ended with five points and three assists for Canisius, as the Griffs ended the contest with 16 assists on 27-made field goals. Canisius out scored UMBC 34-24 in the paint and the Blue and Gold enjoyed a 13-5 advantage in points scored off turnovers.
Canisius will close out the 2011-12 regular season next weekend on the road, starting Friday, Feb. 24, at Manhattan. Tipoff in the Draddy Gymnasium is set for 7 p.m.
Game Notes: This was the first meeting between these two schools on the hardwood... Canisius improved to 5-2 all-time in BracketBuster games and 4-0 in BracketBuster games played at home... The game was the 285th men's basketball game in the Koessler Athletic Center, where the team is 177-108 all-time... The Griffs improved to 39-24 under Parrotta when scoring 70-or more points in a game... Canisius senior Marial Dhal was honored before the game as the program's lone senior and he made his first career start... Hymes' five makes from 3-point land on Saturday gives him 75 this season, which is tied for first on the school's single-season 3-point field goal list with former Griff Toby Foster... Washington scored in double-figures in all 11 non-conference games this season... All four of Manhertz's career double-doubles have come this season, and three of those were recorded at home.