The Canisius Golden Griffins overcame 21 turnovers by shooting 52 percent from the field, 60 percent from 3-point land and 76.9 percent from the free-throw line in a 91-81 win over St. Francis Brooklyn Saturday afternoon in the Koessler Athletic Center. The win, Canisius’ second straight, moves the Blue and Gold to 5-5 on the year, while the terriers slipped to 2-8 with the loss.
Canisius had four players scored in double-figures in the victory, led by junior guard Kassius Robertson, who posted a game-high 27 points. Freshman Isaiah Reese came off the bench to add a career best 17 points to go with seven boards and three assists, while junior forward Jermaine Crumpton chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds. Senior Phil Valenti scored 10 points with freshman guard Malik Johnson posting five points, a career-high eight assists and a career-best seven rebounds.
Canisius led St. Francis Brooklyn 46-39 at the break after the Blue and Gold shot 60.7 percent from the floor and 87.5 percent (7-for-8) from 3-point land in the game’s opening 20 minutes. The Terriers came out of the intermission and used a 14-2 run in the first 4:12 of the second stanza to take a 53-48 lead. The game remained tight for the next 5:00 and change, but a scoring run by Canisius, a 12-2 run over the game’s next 3:10, gave the Blue and Gold a 72-63 lead with 5:27 left on the clock.
In that decisive run, Robertson and Valenti accounted for eight of the Griffs’ 12 points, with Valenti’s lay-up off a pass by freshman Spencer Foley capping the spurt. The Terriers would get the game to 81-75 with 1:24 left on the clock, but the Griffs went 9-for-12 from the free-throw line in the game’s closing 1:02 to seal the win, the Griffs’ first home victory under first-year head coach Reggie Witherspoon.
St. Francis Brooklyn had four players post double-figures in the scoring column as well, led by senior forward Gunnar Olafsson, who posted a career-high 22 points in the loss. Rasheem Dunn was good for 21 points and four rebounds in the loss for the Terriers, who shot 40.3 percent from the field, 41.2 percent from 3-point land and 61.9 percent from the charity stripe.
Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Postgame Comments
“I want to give St. Francis a lot of credit, they play a pressure defense and they forced us into too many turnovers today. As a result, we gave up a lot of points. It covers up the fact that we were able to get our field goal percentage defense down a little bit. We have to clean that aspect up. We did rebound the ball much better, and I thought we shot it well. There are things we need to work on, but overall this was a pretty good effort and it is nice to get a home win.”
“Getting a number of guys to score like we did today is huge for us. It makes us more difficult to prepare for, particularly when we have guys come off the bench and contribute like we did today. It’s good to see guys get in the game and contribute. Even the guys who played today that didn’t score, they helped us. When they can get into the game and sweat and be a part of the win, it helps their growth. This was a game where their pressure forced us to go small at times. It is good to know we can count on a variety of guys when we need to.”
Inside the Box Score
• The Griffs out rebounded the Terriers by a 44-29 clip, the third-straight game where Canisius has out rebounded its opponent.
• Canisius made a season-high 30 free-throws after taking a season best 39 shots from the stripe.
• Canisius held a 28-22 advantage on points in the paint, while St. Francis Brooklyn turned 21 Canisius turnovers into 26 points.
• The game featured nine lead changes and four ties.
• This was the 12th all-time meeting between the schools, and Canisius leads the series 7-5.
• The Griffs’ win on Saturday ended the Terriers’ two-game winning streak in the series, which dated back to the 2010-11 season.
• Since scoring a season-low 58 points in a home loss to Tennessee State Nov. 23, the Griffs are averaging 86.6 points per game.
• Robertson’s 27-point effort in the win marks his four game of 20-or more points in the team’s last five outings.
• Robertson hit four 3-pointers in the win Saturday, his 43rd career game with multiple makes from behind the arc.
• This four makes from 3-point land gives Robertson 152 in his career, making him just the third player in school history to hit more than 150 treys by his junior year, joining Toby Foster and Alshwan Hymes.
• Johnson’s eight assists are the most for a Canisius freshman since former Griff Frank Turner had 11 assists against Niagara Feb. 13, 2007.
• Freshamn Spencer Foley scored a career-high nine points in the win, following an eight-point effort in the win at Bosto University Dec. 7.
Canisius will close out its two-game homestand Monday, Dec. 12 when the Griffs play host to Albany in the Koessler Athletic Center. Game time is set for 7 p.m., and the contest will be broadcast live on ESPN3, with the radio call available on Timeless WECK 1230-AM/102.9-FM and GoGriffs.com.