The Canisius College men's basketball team hit 14 3-point field goals and the Golden Griffins' defense held high-scoring Iona to just 34 second-half points en route to a thrilling 77-74 victory Saturday night in the Koessler Athletic Center. The win, Canisius' fifth in its last six outings, improved the team to 15-8 overall and 8-4 in the MAAC while the Gaels fell to 14-9 overall and 8-4 in league play.
Canisius junior Billy Baron led all scorers with a game-high 23 points as all five Canisius starters scored in double figures for the second-straight game. Senior Harold Washington posted 13 points and senior Isaac Sosa was good for 12 points. Junior Chris Manhertz scored 12 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds in the win for the Griffs, while fellow junior Jordan Heath was good for 10 points and seven boards. As a team, Canisius shot 40 percent from the field, 46.7 percent from 3-point land after going 14-for-30 from long range and 70.4 percent from the free-throw line.
"Iona beat us pretty good when we played them down there [Jan. 13] so tonight was a great team victory for us," Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. "I thought Alshwan Hymes played a great game off the bench tonight. Billy [Baron] really stepped up making some big plays and hit some big shots. We got into foul trouble early and so we were mixing defenses by going man and going zone and it worked down the stretch. Iona is a very good basketball team. They have some very good players and we were fortunate to get this win."
In a game that featured 14 lead changes and 12 ties, Iona led 70-65 with 5:09 left to play in regulation time after Iona senior Lamont Jones hit a pair of free-throws. From there, Baron took over, as he scored the Griffs' next five points in the span of 16 seconds with a driving lay-up and a 3-point field goal that knotted the game at 70-70 with 4:40 remaining. Moments later, Jones stuck a mid-range jumper from the right wing to give the Gaels a 74-72 lead with 3:12 left to play. Neither team was able to score over the game's next 2:14, but with 58 seconds left to play, Baron was fouled as he attempted a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and he calmly walked to the charity stripe and sunk three free-throws to give the Blue and Gold a 75-74 lead with less than a minute to play.
Out of an Iona timeout, the Gaels were called for a traveling violation, and the Griffs went to the other end of the floor where Jordan Heath hit one of two free-throws 26 ticks left. After Iona took its final timeout, the Gaels again coughed the ball up with four seconds left and Sosa went to the line after he was fouled on the ensuing in-bounds pass to secure the Griffs' win after he hit one of two from the line. The win was Canisius' first victory over Iona since the 2010-11 season and it improved the team to 10-2 at home this year.
Hymes had six points on two made 3-pointers for the Griffs, who have made 37 3-point field goals in their last three games. Baron added six assists and five rebounds to Canisius' winning effort, while sophomore Josiah Heath came off the bench to collect five rebounds and a steal in 22 minutes of action. Iona forward Taaj Ridley scored a career-high 18 points in the loss for Iona. David Laurey had 11 points and a game-high 16 rebounds for Gaels, which outrebounded the Griffs by a 49-35 count. Jones scored 13 points and dished out four assists for Iona, which shot 39.7 percent from the field, 24.1 percent from 3-point land and 64.3 percent from the free-throw line.
After playing the last three straight at home, the Griffs will start a five-game road stretch on Thursday, Feb. 7, when the team plays at Manhattan. Tipoff in Riverdale, N.Y., is set for 7 p.m., and that game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.Game Notes: This was the 61st all-time meeting between these two schools, with Iona leading the series by a 32-28 count... Canisius is now 19-10 all-time in home games against Iona... Saturday's game marked the third time this season the Griffs had all five scorers post double figures in the scoring column... Canisius' 15 wins by Feb. 2 are the most for the program since the 1985-86 season... The Griffs have 10 or more makes from 3-point land in 11 games this year... Sosa's three 3-point field goals gives him 74 this season, which ranks third on the school's single-season 3-point field goals made list... Hymes has now hit at least one trifecta in 79 of his 103 career games played and he is now two 3-pointers shy of 200 makes from behind the arc for his career... Baron has scored 20 or more points six times this season and 11 times in his career... Washington's 13 points allowed him to move past the 800-career point milestone for his career as a Griff in just 53 games.