WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Monmouth guard Andrew Nicholas hit two 3-point field goals in the game’s final 10 seconds, with the game-winner coming with 1.0 seconds left to play, to help lift the host Hawks to an 83-82 win over Canisius Sunday afternoon in the MAC in West Long Branch, N.J. The loss ended the Golden Griffins’ three-game winning streak and moved the team to 12-7 overall and 6-2 in MAAC play, while Monmouth improved to 9-10 with the victory and 3-5 in conference action.
Canisius led the game by five points at 82-77 with 14 seconds left to play before Nicholas hit a 3-pointer from the right corner with nine seconds left to make the score 82-80. Canisius was fouled on the ensuing in-bounds pass, and the Griffs walked to the other end of the floor to shoot a one-and-one, but the first toss from the stripe was missed and Monmouth’s Deon Jones grabbed the rebound and raced up the floor. Jones drove toward the right side of the lane and passed it back to Nicholas, who drained just his second trey of the day with one tick left in regulation time to give the Hawks the victory. Canisius made a last-ditch effort to get off a shot, but the Blue and Gold was unsuccessful in moving the ball past Monmouth’s free-throw line before the final horn sounded.
“Give them credit, they made shots and we did not, especially late in the game,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “That kid Nicholas stepped up when they needed him to. But in the end, we didn’t help ourselves. We turned it over too much and we sent them to the free-throw line 26 times. We can’t do that if we are going to win league games, especially on the road.”
Canisius had five players score in double figures in the loss, led by senior Billy Baron, who posted 21 points, six rebounds and six assists in the losing effort. Senior Chris Perez was good for 18 points, while redshirt freshman Phil Valenti added 16 points and four rebounds off the bench. Freshman Zach Lewis scored 13 points and senior Jordan Heath was credited with 10 points, four blocks and three steals in the loss for the Blue and Gold, which ended the day shooting 51 percent from the field, 48 percent from 3-point land and 81.8 percent from the charity stripe.
Nicholas led all scorers with 28 points, 18 of which came in the game’s final 20 minutes of play. Jones posted a double-double in the win for Monmouth as he went for 20 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. The Hawks shot 52.6 percent from the field and 40 percent from long-range and ended the game with 17 points scored off Canisius’ season-high 24 turnovers.
Canisius led 36-28 at halftime, but Monmouth erased that deficit by shooting 55.9 percent from the field in the second half and 50 percent from 3-point land in the game’s last 20 minutes. Canisius stretched its lead to 14 points with 14:11 left to play when Perez drained a triple from right in front of the Griffs’ bench to make the score 55-41. Canisius’ lead remained around 10 for the better part of the game’s next seven minutes before Jones knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 6:09 left to make it a seven-point affair at 65-58.
The Griffs’ lead was trimmed to just three at 73-70 with 2:27 left to play, but a lay-up from Lewis with 1:33 left on the clock made it a five-point game at 75-70. Jones scored the next four points for Monmouth to make it a one-point game at 75-74 with 1:05 left before Canisius answered and pushed its advantage to 78-74 with 57 seconds left on another 3-point bucket by Perez. A jumper by Nicholas in the lane made the score 78-76 with 34 seconds left and Valenti answered for Canisius on its next trip down the floor with a lay-up to make it a four-point contest with 20 ticks left. Monmouth pulled within three at 80-77 when Josh James made one of two free-throws with 16 seconds left on the clock, but he missed the second try from the free-throw line and Monmouth was forced to foul Baron to stop the clock. Baron hit two charity tosses with 14 seconds left to play to make the game 82-77 with 14 seconds left, but Nicholas’ two treys in the game’s closing seconds helped lift Monmouth to the win, ending the team’s two-game slide.
Canisius will return home to host long-time rival Niagara on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in the Koessler Athletic Center. The 193rd all-time meeting between the two Western New York rivals is set for 7 p.m.Game Notes: This was the second all-time meeting between the two schools, with each team winning on its home court… Canisius fell to 5-2 in games decided by five points or less this season… The Griffs last three losses have come by a total of 10 points, with the largest margin of defeat being six points at Notre Dame Dec. 29… Baron led the team in scoring for the 17th time this season… He has scored 20-or more points in seven straight and eight of the team’s last nine contests… The four blocks for Jordan Heath gives him 100 in his career as a Griff… The 16 points for Valenti is a new career-high for the Victor, N.Y., native… Canisius won the rebounding battle on Sunday by a 33-30 count… The team is now 6-1 this year when out rebounding its opponent… The Griffs extended their string of scoring 80-plus points in a game to four consecutive contests.