WORCESTER, MASS. – Canisius senior guard Billy Baron scored a season-high 31 points and fellow seniors Jordan Heath and Chris Perez chipped in 15 and 14 points, respectively to help lead the Golden Griffins to an 83-73 win at Holy Cross in the Hart Center Monday night. The win moves Canisius to 7-4 on the year while the Crusaders slipped to 5-5 with the loss.
Baron’s 31 points came after he went 7-for-15 from the field, 4-for-8 from the free-throw line and 13-for-13 from the free-throw line. He also had nine rebounds, five assists and a steal in the win, while Perez also added seven made field goals and four boards. Heath added three blocked shots and five rebounds to the Griffs’ effort, as the Blue and Gold out rebounded Holy Cross 38-31 for the contest. Freshman Zach Lewis came off the bench and scored eight points to go with five boards and Chris Manhertz was good for six points and six rebounds in the victory.
“This was a solid team win on the road against a really talented team,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “We did a great job of switching defenses on them and I thought that really helped us neutralize their big guy [Dave Dudzinski]. We got good minutes from guys off the bench and down the stretch we knocked down free throws when we needed to.”
Dudzinski had a team-high 16 points for Holy Cross, but he scored just six of those in the game’s second half. He also tallied 10 rebounds for a double-double. Malcolm Miller added 15 points for the Crusaders and Justin Burrell scored 11 points, but Holy Cross turned the ball over 13 times, which the Griffs turned into 19 points.
Canisius trailed Holy Cross 19-12 with 11:51 left before halftime, but the Griffs used an 11-0 run over the span of 2:50 to take a 23-19 lead, a lead the Griffs would not give up for the rest of the night. In that run, Perez scored the first four points with back-to-back lay-ups and the scoring spurt was capped by a 3-pointer by Lewis from the right wing with 8:41 left before the break. In the second half, Holy Cross narrowed the Canisius lead to one, but a bucket from Perez and a pair of free throws from Baron pushed the Griffs’ hold back to five at 48-43 with 16:47 left to play. Holy Cross took another run at the Griffs and trailed 55-53 with 9:58 left to play, but a traditional three-point play from Manhertz and a Baron trey gave Canisius an eight-point cushion at 61-53 with 8:56 left on the clock.
Holy Cross made it a three-point contest with 2:07 left, but Heath ended the Crusaders’ hopes on Canisius’ next trip down the floor when Heath drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing off a pass from Baron with 1:36 left on the clock. Down the stretch, Canisius went 8-for-10 from the charity stripe to close out the game.
For the game, Canisius shot 47.3 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 82.1 percent from the free-throw line while scoring 34 points in the paint against Holy Cross’ 26. The Crusaders shot 40.4 percent from the field, 29.2 percent from behind the arc and 76.9 percent from the charity stripe.
Canisius will play host to its final non-conference home game on Saturday, Dec. 21, when the team plays host to Lamar. Tipoff in the Koessler Athletic Center is set for 4:15 p.m.
Game Notes: Canisius and Holy Cross have now played 18 times in series history, with the Crusaders holding a 13-5 lead in the series… The win was Canisius’ first in the Hart Center in five tries… Baron has scored 30-or more points in four games as a Griff, all on the road… Perez has scored in double figures six times this season and 53 times in his career… Manhertz’s six rebounds gives him 635 career boards and he moved into a tie for 12th place all-time on the school’s rebounding chart with former Griff Tony Massiello... Junior Josiah Heath came off the bench and matched a season-high with five rebounds in 14 minutes.