LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. - Getting two go-ahead free throws and a blocked shot from junior Jamie Ruttle in the final 20 seconds gave the Canisius women's basketball team a 51-50 win over Rider University in Alumni Gymnasium on Thursday afternoon. The Golden Griffins win for the third time in the last four games, improving to 5-9 overall and 2-1 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Six Golden Griffins scored six or more points on the afternoon, led by senior Ashley Durham with 11 points and five rebounds. Senior Allison Braun led the team with five steals and also was 4-for-6 from the floor.
"We had to get some really big stops in this game, especially late, and that was a gutty road win for our team," Canisius coach Terry Zeh said. "Teams are playing to take away the 3-pointer from us, so we are making the adjustment of taking advantage of that space, driving to the basket and finding our posts."
The teams stayed close for the majority of the first half, with a 3-pointer from junior Jen Morabito putting Canisius up 19-17 with just over eight minutes left. Rider then scored nine straight points to take a 26-19 lead after a layup from MyNeshia McKenzie. Canisius scored five of the last seven points in the first half and trailed 28-24 at the break.
The Broncs would start the second half on an 8-2 run, with McKenzie scoring six straight points to put Rider up 36-28 with 16:37 remaining. Canisius then scored 12 straight points and held Rider without a basket for seven and a half minutes. Durham started the run with two drives to set up baskets for Braun. Ruttle drained a 3-pointer from the wing out of an inbounds play, Morabito made a 3-pointer from the corner and junior Jen Lennox finished a layup to put the Griffs up 40-36.
Canisius eventually pushed the lead to 46-40 after a layup from Durham with seven minutes left, but Rider wouldn't go away quietly. Three-point plays from McKenzie started and capped a 10-3 run for the Broncs during the next four minutes to give Rider a 50-49 lead.
The Griffs held Rider without a basket on their next three possessions, including steals from sophomore Brooke Angelos and Braun along with a shot-clock violation with 36 seconds left. Canisius came down, ran a dribble-handoff and sophomore Kayla Hoohuli fed Ruttle in the post. The junior was fouled with 16 seconds left and drained both free throws to put Canisius up by one.
After Rider (6-8, 1-2 MAAC) advanced the ball into the frontcourt and called its final timeout, the Broncs were able to get the ball into the lane to Caitlin Bopp. The senior backed toward the left-side of the lane, turned around and had her shot blocked by Ruttle. Braun grabbed the loose ball and dribbled out the clock to preserve the victory.
McKenzie led all players with a double-double, posting 22 points and 13 rebounds with four steals. Rider had 17 offensive rebounds, converting them into 20 second-chance points.
Canisius concludes its weekend road trip to the state of New Jersey on Saturday, when the Golden Griffins play at Saint Peter's University. Tipoff at the Yanitelli Center is set for 2 p.m.
Notes: Canisius played in its second of three Kid's Day games this season... Canisius starts MAAC play 2-1 for the first time since the 2008-09 season... The Griffs defeat Rider for the fourth straight meeting... Durham scored in double figures for the sixth time in the last eight games... Braun is the first Golden Griffin to have five steals in a game since Steph MacDonald against Saint Peter's vs. Saint Peter's on Jan. 4, 2011... Ruttle now has 11 blocks in the last four games... The eight 3-point field goal attempts tied for the fewest by the Griffs in the last nine seasons (Dec. 11, 2010, at Eastern Michigan).