ALBANY, N.Y. – Canisius sophomore Maria Welch scored seven of her career-high 25 points in overtime, and senior Lauren D'Hont added 20 points and six rebounds, as the eighth-seeded Golden Griffins defeated long-time rival Niagara 80-74 in overtime in the first round of the 2017 MAAC Women’s Basketball Championship at Times Union Center. The win improves Canisius to 10-20 on the season and allows the Blue and Gold to advance to the quarterfinal round on Friday, where the team will play top-seeded Quinnipiac. Niagara sees its season end with an overall record of 8-22.
Welch’s two free-throws with 17 seconds left in regulation put the Griffs up 69-66. After a Niagara timeout moved the ball to mid-court, the Purple Eagles passed the ball around the perimeter, setting up a 3-point shot by guard Tiffany Corselli with the clock winding down. Corselli’s heave rattled through the rim, tying the game at 69-69 with 0.3 seconds left, sending the contest to overtime, the Griffs’ first overtime game of the season.
In the extra session, a lay-up by Niagara’s Victoria Rampado give the Purple Eagles a 74-73 lead with 2:57 left on the clock, but Canisius sealed the victory by outscoring Niagara 7-0 in the final 2:35 of overtime, with Welch counting for five of the team’s points in that run. Canisius went 4-for-6 from the field in the overtime session, and the Griffs ended the game shooting 50.8 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from 3-point land and 78.6 percent from the free-throw line. Niagara, which shot 45.2 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from 3-point range in the loss, closed out the game by going just 2-for-7 in the final five minutes.
Welch ended the day by going 7-for-14 from the floor, 5-for-7 from 3-point land and a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. She also grabbed seven boards and dished out three assists in 30 minutes off the bench. D’Hont’s 20 points came after she went 10-for-14 from the floor, while junior Margret Halfdanardottir and Sara Hinriksdottir added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Senior Tamara Miskovic dished out eight assists in the victory for Canisius, her 14th career game with five-or more assists.
Head Coach Terry Zeh’s Postgame Comments
“First, I thought this was a great game and I thought Niagara played awesome. Tiffany Corselli was fantastic. It was a fun, really well-played basketball game to start off the MAAC Tournament, in my opinion.”
“I am proud of how we played today. We did a lot of things well. I’m proud of the resilience that our team showed, too. It is very easy to pack it in after that shot at the end of regulation. Maria [Welch] stepped up for us, and they were chasing Sara [Hinriksdottir] every where. I thought Sara did a great job being patient and utilizing the way she was being guarded to open up space for Lauren [D’Hont] and Maria.”
Inside the Box Score
• Canisius out rebounded Niagara by a 40-27 clip on Thursday. The Griffs improved to 5-4 this season when winning the battle of the boards.
• Forty-four of the Griffs’ 80 points came from the paint.
• Canisius turned 13 Niagara turnovers into 16 points.
• The nine makes from 3-point land are the second most for the team this season. Canisius made 10 3-pointers in a road win over St. Bonaventure back on Nov. 16.
• The game featured eight ties and seven lead changes.
• This was the 92nd all-time meeting between the two schools, with Canisius holding a 57-35 lead in the series.
• The Griffs are now 5-1 all-time against Niagara in the MAAC Championship and the program moved to 2-2 all-time in MAAC Tournament overtime affairs.
• Welch’s 25 points in the postseason game are two shy of the program record. Former Griff and Canisius Sports Hall of Famer Shauna Geronzin scored 27 points against Fairfield in a MAAC Tournament quarterfinal game March 1, 2002.
• Welch is the third Griff in program history to hit five 3-pointers in a MAAC Tournament game. The last Canisius player to make five triples in a conference postseason contest was former Griff Amanda Cavo, who had five treys against Fairfield March 7, 2009.
• The Griffs are now 11-11 all-time under head coach Terry Zeh in MAAC Tournament games. The victory on Thursday was his 23rd over the Purple Eagles since taking over the program before the 2004-05 season.
Canisius will meet top-seeded Quinnipiac in the MAAC Championship quarterfinal round on Friday, March 3. Tipoff in Times Union Center is set for 1 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on MAAC.tv.