Niagara junior Marvin Jordan's 3-point field goal with 2.8 seconds left in regulation time proved to be the game-winning basket in the visiting Purple Eagles' 66-65 victory over Canisius Sunday afternoon in front of a soldout Koessler Athletic Center. The potential game-winning shot from Canisius junior Billy Baron was waved off after an official review of video replay showed the ball left his hand just after the clock expired. Niagara improved to 13-8 overall and 9-1 in the MAAC with the win, while the Golden Griffins slipped to 13-8 overall and 6-4 in conference action.
Jordan led all scorers with a game-high 23 points in the victory for Niagara, which has now taken five straight from Canisius. He finished the day by going 9-for-18 from the field, 3-for-12 from 3-point range and 2-for-2 from the foul line while adding four rebounds and three steals. For Canisius, three players scored in double figures, led by junior forward Chris Manhertz, who posted his seventh career double-double with a career-high 17 points to go with 15 rebounds. Senior Isaac Sosa had 14 points and fellow senior Harold Washington added 12 points in the loss for the Blue and Gold. Baron was good for nine points and six assists, while junior Jordan Heath chipped in seven points, six boards and a block.
"This was a hard-fought game today," Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. "We had a good win at Rider [on Friday] and we knew coming into today that it was going to be a battle. They have some great athletes and to their credit, they got to the foul line and we did not. They stepped up and made some big shots and we had a few unfortunate turnovers at key times. Marvin Jordan really stepped up for them and hit that shot at the end and we just fell short."
With less than 30 seconds left in the game, the score was tied at 63-63. Billy Baron drove down the right side of the lane and laid one off the glass to give the Griffs a 65-63 lead with 11 seconds left on the clock, but Niagara answered when sophomore Juan'ya Green cut through the lane and found Jordan on the left wing. Jordan was able to rise up and get a shot over the out-stretched arm of Jordan Heath, and the ball hit nothing but net on the way through the hoop to give Niagara a 66-65 lead. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Baron raced down the floor and got off a shot from just in front of the Canisius bench as the final horn sounded. The shot hit nothing but net and was originally ruled a good basket, but after the officials looked at the video replay at courtside, they waved the basket off and Niagara walked out of the Koessler Athletic Center with the victory.
The Griffs led by as many as 10 points early in the second half at 39-29 after Baron drilled a jumped from just inside of the foul line with 17:08 left in the game. Jordan would score seven of Niagara's next nine points as the Purple Eagles got within four at 42-38 with 12:37 left to play. Senior Alshwan Hymes put the Griffs up seven at 45-38 with 12:18 on the clock. Canisius' lead remained around seven points for the next 3:49 before Niagara knotted the game at 51-51 with 7:05 left to play thanks to a 7-0 run, with Antoine Mason and Jordan combining to score all seven of Niagara's points in the spurt. Niagara took its first lead of the second half at 53-51 with 6:23 left in the game on a lay-up by Jordan, and a bucket by Green 22 seconds later pushed the Purple Eagles' hold to 55-51 with 6:01 on the clock.
In the game's final 5:33, neither team led by more than four points and there were five lead changes and three ties. The Blue and Gold took their four-point cushion at 63-59 thanks to a pair of free-throws by Manhertz and a two-handed dunk by Jordan Heath, but a jumper from Green and a Dunk by Niagara center Devon White in the span of 48 seconds knotted the game at 63-63.
Canisius shot 38.5 percent from the field, 32.3 percent from 3-point land and 62.5 percent from the free-throw line in the loss, while holding a 42-37 lead in the rebounding battle. Niagara shot 40.7 percent from the floor, 24 percent from 3-point range and 75 percent from the charity stripe and the Purple Eagles were able to score 19 points off 12 Canisius turnovers. Mason had 14 points for Niagara in the victory while Green chipped in nine points, five rebounds, eight assists and five steals in 35 minutes of action.
Canisius will continue its three-game MAAC homestand Thursday, Jan. 31, when the team plays host to defending MAAC Champion Loyola (Md.) in the Koessler Athletic Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. That game will be broadcast live on the Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
Game Notes: This was the 171st all-time meeting between these two rivals, with Niagara holding a 96-75 lead in the series... Four of the last eight games between Canisius and Niagara have been decided by three points or less... All-time, this was the 71st time Canisius and Niagara played a game decided by five points or fewer, with the Purple Eagles claiming 40 wins in those contests... The sellout crowd in the Koessler Athletic Center was the third of the season for Canisius... The double-double effort for Manhertz was his third of the season, and six of his seven double-double efforts have come in MAAC contests... Manhertz leads the league in rebounding in conference games, as he is pulling down an average of 11.8 rebounds per game in 10 league contests this season... Washington made his 50th career start on Sunday, and his seven rebounds are a season high... Sophomore Josiah Heath had seven boards in the loss for Canisius, the 14th time in his career where he's recorded seven or more boards in a game.