The Canisius women’s basketball team overcame a seven-point second-half deficit and held on late to defeat Bryant University 61-59 at the Koessler Athletic Center on Saturday afternoon. The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Golden Griffins, who even their record at 4-4 on the season.
Junior Kayla Hoohuli led all players with a career-high 19 points while senior Jamie Ruttle had 10 points for the Griffs. Sophomore Crystal Porter added nine points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench.
“That was a total team win today. We got a lot of energy and production from our bench that I thought turned the game around in the second half,” Canisius coach Terry Zeh said. “We had to get really gritty at times, and we got stops down the stretch when we needed them.
An up-tempo start to the game saw Canisius drain its first two 3-pointers and take a quick 6-5 lead. The Griffs would cool off from behind the arc, and not make a 3-pointer during the rest of the half as Bryant extended its lead to as many as seven points. The Bulldogs controlled the glass with 12 offensive rebounds leading to nine second-chance points in the first half.
The Griffs kept the deficit within reach by going 12-of-15 from the free-throw line and shooting 7-of-11 on two-point shots. Canisius got within one at 26-25 after back-to-back baskets from sophomore Emily Weber along with a top-of-the-key jumper from Porter. A three-point play from Hoohuli gave Canisius the lead at 31-29 but Bryant scored five of the last six points to take a two-point lead into the locker room.
Bryant (2-6) maintained its lead throughout the first eight minutes of the second half. Canisius kept the Bulldogs within striking distance by riding the play of its bench. Porter used a step-through move on the right block and finished with her off hand to even the score at 42-42 with just over 15 minutes remaining.
After the Bulldogs drained two free throws, senior Jen Morabito cashed in on a wide-open 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Canisius its first lead of the second half at 45-44 and end a stretch of 12 misses for Canisius from behind the arc. The teams would trade the lead four times before the second three-point play of the game from Hoohuli put the Griffs up 55-51. Melissa Corraro drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to make it a one-point game. Hoohuli answered with a deep 3-pointer and Courtney Schissler came right back to make it a one-point game again with 3:30 left.
The Bulldogs scored on a free-throw line jumper from Naana Ankoma-Mensa to take a one-point lead and then Ruttle scored in transition to give the lead right back to Canisius, just 15 seconds later. Neither team would score down the stretch, with Hoohuli taking a charge with 1:37 left, her fourth in the last five games, to keep Canisius in the lead. Oakland had a chance to take the lead with under 30 seconds remaining, but Canisius got a stop as Hoohuli corralled the rebound and split two free throws to make it a two-point game. The Bulldogs missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds and grabbed the offensive rebound, but couldn’t get a good look as the buzzer sounded.
Ankoma-Mensa led Bryant with 13 points and 15 rebounds as the Bulldogs held a 51-35 advantage on the glass. Bryant shot 26.2 percent from the floor but was 7-for-19 on 3-pointers and 18-for-22 from the free-throw line.
After a week off from competition for final exams, Canisius wraps up its non-conference schedule at the University of Vermont on Monday, Dec. 16. Tipoff in Burlington, Vt. is set for 7 p.m.
Notes: Canisius and Bryant met for the first time in program history… With Porter on the floor, the teams were even in rebounding (23-23) while Bryant held a 28-12 advantage in the other 21 minutes… Canisius had season highs with 17 free throws and 25 free-throw attempts… The Griffs shot better than 40 percent for the fifth time this season, matching their total from 2012-13… The 26.2 field goal percentage for Bryant was a season low for a Canisius opponent… Canisius led 52-50 with five minutes remaining and improved to 126-11 under Zeh when leading at halftime… Canisius won for the first time this season when trailing at the half.