PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Canisius senior guard Billy Baron hit the game-winning 3-pointer as the final horn sounded to help lift the Golden Griffins to an 86-85 win over Elon in the second game of the NIT Season Tip Off Tuesday night in The RAC in Piscataway, N.J. The Griffs scored the game’s last nine points to secure the win and end their two-game losing streak. Canisius is now 2-2 on the year.
Canisius trailed Elon by eight points at 85-77 before Baron hit a pair of free-throws with 1:51 left on the clock to make the score 85-79. On Elon’s next trip up the floor, redshirt sophomore Kevin Bleeker got a steal and the Griffs raced down the court and missed two shots before Bleeker tipped in an offensive rebound with his left hand to make the game a four-point affair at 85-81 with 1:16 left to play. After another Elon turnover, Canisius had the ball but was called for an offensive foul. Out of a Canisius timeout, senior guard Chris Perez ripped the ball away from Elon’s Ryley Beaumont and laid it into the bucket to cut the Elon cushion to 85-83.
Elon (2-3) had the ball and took a 30-second timeout with 26 seconds left, but again the Canisius defense was up to the task, as junior Jeremiah Williams swiped the ball away from Elon’s Luke Eddy, forcing it went out-of-bounds. Baron casually strolled up the floor with 10 seconds left on the clock and pulled up for the game-winning 3-pointer with less than a second left to play. Baron’s shot, his only made 3-pointer on the night, hit nothing but net as the final horn sounded, and Canisius left the floor with its third victory of five-points or less in its last six games, dating back to last season.
Baron scored a team-high 21 points in the win for Canisius after he went 6-for-12 from the field, 1-for-4 from 3-point land and 8-for-9 from the free-throw line to go with six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Perez added 17 points and three steals, while senior Chris Manhertz chipped in nine points in seven minutes of action before fouling out of the contest. Redshirt freshman Phil Valenti scored a career-high nine points to go with five rebounds and Bleeker posted eight points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal in 18 minutes off the bench.
“This was a great bounce-back win for us,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “I thought our guys off the bench gave us some great minutes and energy tonight. That’s a team that’s picked to win their league, and our guys came in off the bench with fresh legs and really gave a great effort. This is a solid, hard-fought team win.”
Canisius led by five points at 56-51 with 15:29 left to play in regulation time before the Phoenix went on an 18-2 run over the span of 5:32 to help Elon take a 69-58 lead. Canisius fought back and trailed by just five at 76-71 after Baron hit a fall-away jumper from just outside the paint with 6:10 left to play, but Elon responded and stretched its hold back to as many as eight points with 2:43 left to play.
Canisius shot 57.7 percent from the field in the win and held a 36-32 advantage on points scored in the paint. The Griffs collected 10 assists on the night, with Williams adding a career-high three to the winning cause, and the Blue and Gold turned 15 Elon turnovers into 18 points. The Phoenix shot 45.6 percent from the floor, 47.4 percent from 3-point land and 88.9 percent from the free-throw line, while holding a 34-25 advantage on the boards. Troutman and Eddy combined to score 46 of their team’s 85 points on the night, as both players had 23 points apiece, and Tanner Samson (16 points) and Beaumont (14 points) also scored in double figures for the Phoenix.
Canisius will learn its next opponents and playing site in the consolation round of the NIT Season Tip Off after the NIT committee reviews the field. An announcement is expected sometime Wednesday afternoon.Game Notes: Canisius is now 2-0 all-time against Elon… The win improves the Griffs to 2-2 all-time in the NIT Season Tip Off… The Griffs went to the free-throw line 34 times, a season high… Baron played all 40 minutes for the first time this season… Perez’s three steals are a season-high and one shy of tying his pervious career best, set when he played for Stetson… Canisius shot 70.8 percent from the field in the game’s first 20 minutes… The game featured 10 ties and seven lead changes.