Rider freshman Zederic Sadler scored the game's final five points, highlighted by a 3-pointer with 12.7 seconds left on the clock to help lift the visiting Broncs to a 65-61 win over Canisius Saturday afternoon in the Koessler Athletic Center. The win was Rider's fifth straight and improved the team to 18-13 overall and 12-6 in MAAC play, while the Golden Griffins slipped to 18-12 overall and 11-7 in conference action.
Rider's victory, coupled with Niagara's 78-61 win over Saint Peter's, secures the No. 2 seed in next weekend's 2013 MAAC Men's Basketball Championship in Springfield, Mass. The Griffs will enter the conference's postseason tournament as either the No. 4 or No. 5 seed pending league results on Sunday.
"We knew it was going to be a battle today, [Rider] is a very athletic team and they made shots down the stretch," Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. "They won the rebounding battle and we missed some shots down the stretch. That's the way the game goes. You make those shots and you look wonderful. You don't make them and you find yourself upset because it wasn't enough. Our guys have nothing to hang their heads about. We'll get back to work on Monday and watch some film and we're going to keep trying to get better."
Canisius seniors Isaac Sosa and Harold Washington and junior Billy Baron scored 14 points apiece in the loss for Canisius, which ended the regular season with an 11-3 record at home. Baron added four assists and a rebound to his final stat line while Washington was credited with three assists and a steal. Junior Chris Manhertz was credited with a game-high eight rebounds for the Blue and Gold while senior Alshwan Hymes added six points and three assists. Hymes' scored his six points on a pair of makes from 3-point land, and his 3-point field goal just 2:04 into the contest allowed him to become the 33rd player in men's basketball program history to reach the 1,000-career point mark. As a team, Canisius shot 42.6 percent from the field and 70 percent from the free-throw line, but the team struggled from behind the arc, shooting 28 percent (7-for-25) on the day.
The Griffs took a five-point lead at 61-56 with 4:33 left in the game when Baron knifed through the lane and found a wide-open Sosa in the corner for his second 3-point field goal of the contest. That basket however would mark the Griffs' final hoop of the day, as the Broncs used a 9-0 run over the game's final 4:10 to seal the win. Rider guard Nurideen Lindsey got the Broncs' winning run started with a lay-up and then junior Daniel Stewart nailed two free-throws with 3:33 left on the clock to make the score 61-60 in favor of the Griffs.
The game would remain a one-point affair for the next 3:21 of game action before Sadler drilled a 3-pointer from right in front of the Broncs' bench to give the visiting team a 63-61 advantage with 12.7 seconds left on the clock. On the ensuing inbounds, Canisius marched up the floor but was unable to score and Sadler grabbed the rebound. He was fouled by Canisius and then knocked down both free-throws to seal the win for the Broncs, Rider's 11th win over Canisius in Buffalo in a series that dates back to the 1929-30 season.
The Griffs jumped out to an early10-2 lead just 2:17 into the game on the power of a pair of 3-pointers from Hymes and Sosa. Canisius' lead hovered around seven or eight points for most of the first half before the Griffs took an 11-point lead with 5:10 left before intermission on a lay-up by Manhertz. Canisius took a 38-31 lead into the halftime break after the team shot 48 percent from the field and 81.8 percent from the free-throw line in the game's first 20 minutes.
In the second half, Rider shot 59.1 percent from the field and 75 percent from the charity stripe as the Broncs outscored the Griffs by a 34-23 clip. Junior Fortunat scored seven of his 12 points in the game's second stanza to lead all scorers for the Broncs. Lindsey and senior Jonathon Thompson added 11 points apiece for Rider while Sadler and Shawn Valentine were good for seven points each. Valentine also had a team-high six boards in the win as the Broncs out rebounded Canisius 29-21.
The Griffs will start their march toward the program's first MAAC Tournament championship since 1996 next Saturday, March 9 when the team plays an opponent to be determined in the second game of the MAAC Tournament quarterfinal round. Tipoff in the MassMutual Center is set for 4:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.Game Notes: This was the 38th all-time meeting between Canisius and Rider, with the Broncs holding a 30-8 lead in the series... Canisius started Washington, Sosa, Hymes, Freddy Asprilla and Reggie Groves on Senior Day... The 11 wins for the Griffs in league play are the most for the team since 1998-99... Hymes is the second-straight Canisius player to score his 1,000th career point on Senior Day - former Griff Elton Frazier also reached the 1,000 point milestone on his Senior Day in 2011... Washington's 14 points gives him 17.4 points per game in the team's last five contests... Baron's four assists gives him 152 on the year, which ties him for ninth on the school's single-season assist list... Manhert'z eight rebounds gives him 265 this season, which are the most for a Griff since Darren Fenn had 315 rebounds during the 1999-00 campaign... Canisius slipped to 14-5 on the season when leading at the half.