Five Canisius players scored in double figures, led by seniors Billy Baron and Jordan Heath, and the Golden Griffins forced Lamar into 19 turnovers en route to an 87-74 victory Saturday afternoon in the Koessler Athletic Center. The win was the Griffs’ second-straight and fifth victory in their last six outings as the team improved to 8-4 on the year while the Cardinals slipped to 1-10 with the loss.
Baron and Heath each scored 16 points for the Blue and Gold in the win, while fellow senior Chris Perez added 14 points. Senior forward Chris Manhertz added 10 points and a season-high nine rebounds and freshman Zach Lewis came off the bench to score 10 points while recording a career-high four steals. For the game, Canisius shot 46.8 percent from the field, 50 percent (10-for-20) from 3-point land and 73.1 percent from the free-throw line. All nine Griffs that played on Saturday had at least four points in the win and the Blue and Gold turned Lamar’s 19 turnovers into 20 points.
“Going back to those first two league games earlier in the month, the last few weeks have been a bit of a grind for us, but I thought this win today was a solid team effort,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “We knew coming in that Lamar was a feisty group and they played hard, but that run right before halftime really gave us some room to breathe. We did a good job of running and sharing the ball in that run, which was good to see. We lost the rebounding battle again however, which is something we really need to get a handle on before it costs us a game.”
Four Lamar players scored in double figures for the Cardinals, who dropped their seventh straight with the loss. Junior forward Octavius Green had a team-high 15 points for Lamar and he was also credited with nine rebounds in 24 minutes. For the game, Lamar out rebounded the Griffs by a 36-32 count, with 10 of those rebounds coming off the offensive glass.
Canisius led by five at 35-30 with 3:36 left before the halftime break, but Lamar made it a one-possession game after sophomore Rhon Mitchell knocked down a jumper on the baseline for two of his 12 points in the game. Following Mitchell’s jumper, Canisius took a 30-second timeout and then proceeded to go on a 12-0 run in the final 2:41 of the first half to head into the locker room with a 47-32 lead at the break. In that 12-0 scoring run, Jordan Heath had seven-straight points for the Griffs, and Baron capped the run with a fast-break layup off a pass from Lewis with 25 ticks left before intermission.
In the second half, Canisius’ lead ballooned to as many as 21 points midway through the stanza, but Lamar was able to chip away and make it a 10-point game at 69-59 with 5:28 left in regulation time on a bucket from Green. Canisius ended Lamar’s hopes at making a comeback, with an 8-2 run over the game’s next 2:25, capped by a 3-point field goal from Baron, one of his two makes from behind the arc on the day.
Baron added seven assists, six rebounds and two steals to his final stat line for the Blue and Gold, which improved to 4-0 at home this season with the victory. Junior Jeremiah Williams matched his career-high with six points for Canisius and redshirt freshman Phil Valenti came off the bench to pull down six boards in 14 minutes. Canisius had 20 assists in the game as well, with all nine players that saw time on the court being credited with at least one assist.
Canisius will return to action Sunday, Dec. 29, when the team plays at Notre Dame. Game time in South Bend, Ind., is set for 5 p.m., and the game will be broadcast to a national audience on ESPNU.Game Notes: Canisius is 2-0 all-time against Lamar and the win improved the Griffs to 2-0 all-time at home against teams from the Southland Conference… Canisius hits the Christmas holiday break with a winning record for the second-straight year and for just the fourth time since 2000-01… The win improved the Blue and Gold to 16-4 in its last 20 home contests, dating back to last season… Baron’s seven assists gives him 27 in his last three home games, dating back to the team’s win over Saint Peter’s Dec. 6… Jordan Heath’s 16 points on Saturday moves his scoring average at home this season to 17.8 points per game… Prior to Saturday, the last time Canisius had five players score in double-figures was March 20, 2013 – a 69-53 win over Elon in the first round of the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Tournament… The Griffs made 10 3-pointers for the 17th time in 46 games under head coach Jim Baron… The win for Baron is the 417th in his career… Baron now has a victory over 104 different Division I schools.