The Canisius College men's basketball team opened exhibition play with a 77-54 win over Ryerson University Friday night in the Koessler Athletic Center. Canisius junior Billy Baron scored a game-high 22 points and dished out five assists in the win for the Golden Griffins, while senior guard Harold Washington chipped in 10 points and five assists as well.
In their first action of the season, the Griffs came at the visiting Rams (8-9) from all angles, as the Blue and Gold ended the night shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from 3-point range. Junior center Jordan Heath was credited with nine points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in his debut in a Canisius uniform, while senior Freddy Asprilla chipped in nine points as well. Senior Isaac Sosa and junior Reggie Groves scored eight points apiece in the victory, with senior Alshwan Hymes adding six points, three rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes.
"I thought it was a good first game for us tonight as a team," Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. "We made some shots early and we got some stops defensively. [Ryerson] didn't score for close to four minutes or so at one point. Our guys did a good job with the scouting report and I thought we really shared the basketball. We had 21 assists as a team. In these first few games, we're looking to build chemistry. It is kind of like on-the-job training. We have some things to work on, but this was a good effort all around."
Canisius jumped out early on Ryerson and took an 11-3 lead 4:59 into the ball game on a made 3-pointer by Sosa, one of 14 makes from long-range for the Griffs on the night. The Griffs led by a score of 48-18 at the halftime break thanks to a dunk by Asprilla, who ended the night by going 4-for-6 from the field. An Asprilla lay-up with 15:14 left to play in the contest pushed the Canisius cushion to 35 points at 55-20, but the Rams battled back and cut the Blue and Gold's lead to 57-32 after Baijoty Judge hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 11:50 left in regulation time. In the end, Canisius' ability to hit shots from behind the arc while also scoring in the paint proved to be too much, and the Griffs also capitalized on Ryerson's 17 turnovers, which turned into 20 points for the Blue and Gold.
"Guys were feeling good early, and when you're making shots, things come a bit easier," Baron said of his team's efforts from 3-point land. "We're going to work at getting the ball inside more, but when the defense is sagging and guys have open looks, that's where you need to be able to score points as well."
Jahmal Jones scored a team-high 15 points in the loss for Ryerson, which shot 29.3 percent from the field, 23.5 percent from 3-point range and 69.6 percent from the free-throw line. Bjorn Michaelson and Aaron Best had eight rebounds apiece for the Rams in the loss, and Canisius ended the game with a 42-37 advantage on the glass.
Canisius will play the second of its two exhibition games Thursday, Nov. 8, when the team hosts Eckerd in the Koessler Athletic Center. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Game Notes: This was Canisius' first exhibition game since the 2010-11 season... This also marks the first time in school history Canisius has played Ryerson in men's basketball action... The Griffs had nine blocked shots as a team, led by Jordan Heath's six blocks... Josiah Heath came off the bench to record six rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes... Freshman forward Phil Valenti did not dress for the game because of an injury - he is scheduled to return to practice early next week.