LEWISTON, N.Y. — The Canisius women’s basketball team gave up 15 second-chance points on 13 offensive rebounds and Niagara shot 10-for-17 from behind the arc as the Golden Griffins lost 69-60 to the rival Purple Eagles at the Gallagher Center on Wednesday night.
Sophomore Tiahana Mills led Canisius with 12 points to go along with seven assists, the seventh time this year Mills has had six or more assists in a game. Three Golden Griffins — senior Jamie Ruttle, redshirt junior Courtney VandeBovenkamp and junior Kayla Hoohuli — each scored nine points with Hoohuli pulling down a season-high seven rebounds.
“After Niagara’s hot start, it felt like we were battling uphill all night,” Canisius coach Terry Zeh said. “I felt we let their top outside shooters get too many good looks at the basket, and they did what good shooters do by knocking them down.”
Niagara made its first four shots from the field and jumped out to a quick 12-6 lead just over four minutes into the game. Canisius wasn’t able to get free from the outside and attacked Niagara inside, with 10 of the Griffs’ first 12 points coming in the paint. Niagara led 27-21 after a 3-pointer from Meghan McGuinness, the sixth 3-pointer of the half for the Purple Eagles.
Canisius (8-13, 4-8 MAAC) held Niagara scoreless for the rest of the half, with the fourth basket of the half from Mills making it 27-25 at the break. The Griffs overcame 1-for-7 shooting from behind the arc in the opening 20 minutes by going 11-for-19 on two-point shots.
Canisius took its first lead of the game on a bucket one minute into the second half from Ruttle. Niagara regained control with a quick five-point spurt and used a 3-pointer from the corner from McGuinness to go up 34-30, a lead the Purple Eagles never relinquished. The Griffs trailed by nine before getting 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions from freshman Lauren D’Hont to make it a three-point game.
Niagara (7-13, 5-6 MAAC) would use a 9-3 run to go up 56-45 after a basket from Victoria Rampado with just over six minutes left. The Griffs cut the lead in half with a 3-pointer from senior Jen Morabito and two free throws from VandeBovenkamp and trailed 56-51 with four minutes left. The Griffs forced a miss on the the Niagara next possession, but McGuinness grabbed an offensive rebound and drained two free throws to start a 6-0 run that put the game away.
McGuinness led all players with 22 points while Chanel Johnson had 14 points. McGuinness and Val McQuade combined for eight 3-pointers as Niagara shot 10-for-17 from behind the arc.
Canisius returns to the court on Friday, Feb. 7, when the Golden Griffins face Niagara for the second time in 10 days. Game time at the Koessler Athletic Center is set for 4 p.m., with the game being shown live on ESPN3.
Notes: Wednesday was the 83rd all-time meeting between the two rivals... Niagara’s win was the first time in five meetings that the home team won in the series... The seven games with six or more assists by Mills ranks as the second-highest total by a Golden Griffin in the last 10 years... Hoohuli made a 3-pointer for the 20th time this season, the highest total in the MAAC... Canisius scored a season-high 22 points off turnovers... Niagara’s 3-point field goal percentage of 58.8 was the highest by a Canisius opponent this season... Canisius now holds an 8-7 lead in the Battle of the Bridge all-sports competition between the schools