Freshman Tiahana Mills banked in a half-court buzzer-beater to cap a late rally as the Canisius women's basketball team defeated Siena College 65-62 in front of a capacity Kid's Day crowd of 2,196 in the Koessler Athletic Center on Friday. Canisius improves to 9-2 in its last 11 Kid's Day games in the KAC and wins back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Seniors Ashley Durham and Ashley Wilkes each scored a team-high 16 points for the Griffs, with Wilkes adding six rebounds. Mills had 12 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals in 27 minutes.
"Conference games are gutty, and you rarely see teams win going away. Teams make runs, and we were able to make one at the end of the game," Canisius coach Terry Zeh said. "Tiahana showed a great presence of mind to get that shot off. I don't think a lot of players in our league have the athleticism to make that play in just a few seconds."
Canisius (4-8) trailed 58-52 with two and a half minutes left before scoring nine straight points to take a 61-58 lead. Durham started the run with a layup, and Mills then stole the ball from Kanika Cummings at mid-court, scoring an uncontested layup to make it a two-point game. Sophomore Kayla Hoohuli drained two free throws and then made a 3-pointer to put Canisius up by three with 47 seconds left.
Cummings made a layup with 32 seconds left but couldn't convert the three-point play to keep Canisius ahead 61-60. Junior Jamie Ruttle split two free throws with 16 seconds left to put Canisius up 62-60. Cummings then scored a layup with 3.0 seconds left to tie the game.
Ruttle inbounded the ball to Mills, who took three dribbles, crossed over on her fourth dribble, and released the shot a step behind the mid-court line. The buzzer sounded as the shot was in the air, with the ball banking off the glass for the first Canisius buzzer beater since Heather Fiore at St. Bonaventure on Jan. 24, 1995.
"Knowing there wasn't much time left, I was just trying to get a shot off," Mills said. "Jamie got the ball to me, I was able to cross over and got it off. I felt it was online and luckily it went in."
Canisius jumped out to a 17-3 lead just under six minutes into the game as the Griffs made six of their first eight shots. Siena chipped away at the Griffs' lead and cut the deficit to four points as Canisius took a 25-19 lead into the locker room.
Canisius scored four quick points in the opening 50 seconds of the second half to go back up by double digits, leading 29-19 after layups from Wilkes and Ruttle. The Saints scored eight straight points and eventually tied the game at 32-32 on a 3-pointer from Clara Sole Anglada. Canisius didn't relinquish the lead until a three-point play from Tehresa Coles with 11:24 left put Siena up 40-39.
The Griffs would hold a 52-51 lead after two free throws from senior Allison Braun with 4:42 left. The Saints then scored seven straight points, including a 3-pointer from Sole Anglada and a three-point play from Lily Grenci, to put Siena up 58-52, setting the stage for the Griffs' comeback.
Grenci led Siena with 16 points and seven rebounds. Cummings had 11 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench while Sole Anglada had 10 points and six rebounds. Siena shot 17.9 percent in the first half but shot 46.4 percent in the second half.
Canisius concludes its season-long three-game homestand on Sunday, when the Golden Griffins host Iona College. Tipoff in the KAC is set for 3 p.m.
Notes: Canisius ended a three-game losing streak overall to the Saints and have now won seven of the last 10 games between the teams in Buffalo... Canisius opens MAAC play with a win for the first time since the 2008-09 season... Ruttle set a career high with four blocks and has seven blocks in the last two games... The Griffs had 18 assists on 24 made baskets... The teams scored 44 points in the first half and combined for 83 points in the second half... Mills had five or more assists for the fifth time in the last seven games... Durham scored in double figures for the fourth time in the last six games.