The Canisius College women's basketball team lost 62-49 to rival Niagara University in a Battle of the Bridge contest in the Koessler Athletic Center on Sunday afternoon. The Golden Griffins fall to 8-11 overall and 5-3 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Senior Ashley Durham led three Golden Griffins who reached double figures, scoring 14 points and recording five assists. Junior Jamie Ruttle had 13 points while senior Ashley Wilkes had 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. Canisius shot 1-for-20 on 3-pointers in the game with Niagara countering by shooting 7-of-9 from behind the arc.
"I felt we let our struggles on offense affect our defensive intensity," Canisius coach Terry Zeh said. "Niagara did some good things on their end, but at the end of the day if you don't make shots, it is really hard to win basketball games."
Both teams started strong from the field offensively, with Canisius making four of its opening six shots and Niagara countering with nine points in the opening four minutes. The Griffs went up 8-7 on a layup from Ruttle with 16:28 left but wouldn't score again for more than six minutes. The Purple Eagles scored nine consecutive points and extended it to a 16-2 run during a span of more than 10 minutes. Canisius only made one field goal for more than 13 minutes, before closing the half on an 8-2 run to get within 27-20 after two free throws from freshman Tiahana Mills.
Each team came out of the locker room strong again in the second half, combining for 19 points in the opening four minutes. A layup from Durham got Canisius within six at 36-30 just under five minutes into the half. The Purple Eagles broke the game open by scoring the next 11 points. A 3-pointer from Meghan McGuinness made it 42-30 and then Kayla Stroman gathered an overthrown pass in the backcourt. Stroman's layup and a 3-pointer from Val McQuade put Niagara up 47-30. Canisius could never get the deficit into single digits the rest of the way.
Lauren Gatto led all players with 17 points, going 7-of-14 from the floor. McGuinness scored 16 points, shooting 5-for-6 on the day. Niagara shot 44.2 percent on the day, including 52 percent in the second half.
Canisius opens the month of February with two road games, starting at league-leading Marist on Friday. Game time at the McCann Arena is set for 7 p.m.
Notes: Canisius lost to Niagara in the KAC for the second consecutive season and fell to 1-2 in home MAAC games... Durham scored 11 or more points for the ninth time in her career, the third-longest streak by a Golden Griffin in the last 10 seasons... The nine rebounds gives Wilkes 40 rebounds in the last five games... Canisius outscored Niagara 26-14 in the paint, the biggest advantage in the category this season for the Griffs... With the sweep of the doubleheader, Niagara now holds a 10-5 lead in the Battle of the Bridge all-sports competition between the teams.