Playing its first postseason game in 17 years, the Canisius men’s basketball team defeated Elon University 69-53 in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament in the Koessler Athletic Center on Wednesday night. With the win, the Golden Griffins improve to 19-13 on the season.
Senior Harold Washington led Canisius with 19 points, one of five Griffs in double figures. Junior Jordan Heath had 13 points and five blocks while senior Isaac Sosa had 11 points, including 3-of-6 on 3-pointers. Junior Billy Baron had 10 points and seven assists with two steals and sophomore Josiah Heath had 10 points and six boards in the winning effort.
Canisius will learn of its second round opponent sometime late Wednesday night or early Thursday. The Griffs will be on the road for their second round CIT game, which is scheduled to be played March 21-24.
“This is very special, especially for our upperclassmen,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “I look at those guys who have been here and I’m happy for them because they’ve put in the work to help us get to this point. There aren’t many teams left playing in the postseason, so to get a win and keep playing means a lot to this program. Elon is a good team. We knew they could shoot the three and they run some good sets, but I think our defense really stepped up in the second half tonight to take them out of their game plan.”
Canisius jumped out to a 12-7 lead, getting two early 3-pointers from Sosa and a breakaway dunk from Jordan Heath. The Phoenix scored eight straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Jack Isenberger, to take a 15-12 lead. A jumper from the elbow from sophomore Josiah Heath broke a scoreless stretch of 4:43 for the Griffs and made it a one-point game. That jumper started a 13-3 Canisius run, including Washington stealing an inbounds pass and laying it in for the Griffs as well as junior Reggie Groves stripping Elon’s Ryley Beaumont at midcourt and finishing a fast-break layup, as the Griffs built a seven-point lead.
Canisius scored the last eight points of the first half, including a fast-break layup from Baron set up by a block from junior Chris Manhertz and capped in the final second by the third 3-pointer of the half from Sosa, to take a 35-23 lead into the locker room.
Canisius opened the second half on an 8-2 run, with Washington accounting for six of those points, as the Griffs went up 43-25. Elon came back with the next five points but Canisius used an 8-2 run, capped with a dunk from Jordan Heath, to go up 51-32. Elon held Canisius without a field goal for exactly five minutes, but the Phoenix were held without a field goal for nearly five and a half minutes as Canisius went back up by 59-40 after a baby hook from Manhertz.
Elon (21-12) went on a quick seven-point spurt to cut the deficit to 59-47 with 5:15 left. A 3-pointer from the wing from Jordan Heath and then a dunk from the junior extended the Canisius lead back to 17 and put the game away.
Ryley Beaumont led all players with 20 points and posted a double-double with 12 rebounds. Isenbarger finished with 13 points as Elon held a 48-37 advantage on the glass, including 17 offensive rebounds.
Game Notes: This marked the first time Canisius and Elon met in men’s basketball… The postseason win for the Griffs was the program’s first since March 23, 1995, when the Blue and Gold defeated Washington State 89-83 in the quarterfinal round of the NIT in Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium… The game on Wednesday was Canisius’ 300th all-time contest in the Koessler Athletic Center where the program holds a 189-111 record… Canisius has now won 12 games in the Koessler Athletic Center this year… Canisius held Elon to 29.4 percent from the field for the game, the lowest field goal percentage for a Canisius opponent this year… The Griffs are now 9-4 this season when four or more players score in double figures… Washington’s game-high 19 points marks the 48th time in his 62 career games at Canisius where he’s posted double-figures in the scoring column… This was the 18th time this season Sosa had three or more 3-point field goals in a game… Baron’s seven assists are the most for the junior guard since he had seven in a win over Loyola (Md.) Jan. 31, at home.