LEWISTON, N.Y. - Host Niagara University out scored Canisius College by a 5-2 count in overtime, and the Golden Griffins' last-second shots from 3-point range did not go down as the Purple Eagles posted a 60-57 overtime victory Wednesday night in the Gallagher Center. The win improved Niagara to 12-16 overall and 7-9 in MAAC play, while Canisius fell to 4-22 overall and 1-15 in conference games.
Leading 58-57 with 11 seconds to play in overtime, Niagara's Antoine Mason made two free-throws to push the score to 60-57 in favor of the home team. Canisius took the inbounds pass and drove the length of the floor, where junior guard Gaby Belardo found teammate Alshwan Hymes open from 3-point range with six seconds left on the click. Hymes' shot from behind the arc banged off the back-iron and Belardo grabbed the rebound, but his last-second heave from 3-point land missed as the final buzzer sounded and Niagara secured the victory, the team's third straight overall.
Mason finished the night with a game-high 21 points, as the redshirt freshman accounted for all five of Niagara's points in the extra session after he went 5-for-7 from the free-throw line. Freshman Juan'ya Green chipped in 16 points and five assists in the win for Niagara, while freshman Ameen Tanksley added 10 points and eight rebounds. For the game, Niagara shot 30.2 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from 3-point range.
Hymes had 19 points to lead all Canisius scorers after he went 6-for-17 from the floor and 5-for-14 from long range. He also added six rebounds and two assists to his final stat line. Junior Harold Washington was good for nine points, seven rebounds and five assists, while sophomore Chris Manhertz chipped in eight points and five boards. Freshman forward Josiah Heath scored six points and led all players with a game-high 14 rebounds as the Blue and Gold out rebounded Niagara by a 56-41 clip.
"As I say about these games all the time, this was another great college basketball game here tonight and our guys really played to win," Canisius head coach Tom Parrotta said. "We had a few good days of practice and we were really locked in. They came to work all week leading up to this game and it is gratifying to me for us to come in here, in a pretty hostile environment, and give a great effort. But in the end, we have to win, that's the bottom line. We had the ball in our hands and we had the game in the balance on our terms. What more could you ask for. I'm proud of the effort, we just came up a bit short."
Niagara held a six-point lead with 3:05 left in the game after Joseph Thomas pulled down an offensive rebound and laid one in the basket to make the score 53-47 in favor of the Purple Eagles. The Griffs got within four points after Washington made a pair of free throws, and moments later, Canisius made it a two-point contest when Hymes stole the ball from Green and moved it forward to Washington, who broke away from the pack and slammed one down with 1:03 left on the clock to make the score 53-51. Niagara pushed its cushion back to 55-51 with 53 seconds left to play in regulation, but Manhertz made it a two-point game again with two good charity tosses with 39 seconds left on the clock. After both teams traded misses, Hymes grabbed an offensive rebound with 6.7 seconds left and drew a foul, where the DeWitt, N.Y., native knocked down two from the free-throw line to knot the score at 55-55. Niagara had one last chance to win the game in regulation, but Mason missed a jumped from the top of the key and the game headed into overtime.
In overtime, neither team made a field goal, as Canisius went 0-for-8 from the floor and Niagara ended the extra session by going 0-for-4 from the field. Canisius was credited with 21 offensive rebounds in the losing effort and turned those into 10 second-chance points, while Niagara was able to convert 16 Canisius turnovers into 15 points. Niagara's Marvin Jordan was credited with a game-high four steals in the win for the Purple Eagles, who have now taken nine-straight games from Canisius in the Gallagher Center.
Canisius will return to action Saturday, Feb. 18, when the Griffs close out the home portion of the 2011-12 season against UMBC in the Sears BracketBusters X game. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m., and prior to the game, the men's basketball program will honor its lone senior, center Marial Dhal.
Game Notes: This was the 169th all-time meeting between these two schools, with Niagara holding a 94-75 advantage in the series... This was the 120th overtime in program history, with Canisius boasting a 78-42 record in those contests... Canisius has now played a total of 18 overtime games against Niagara, with each team winning nine times... Prior to Wednesday night's overtime game, the last time these two schools played an extra session in the Gallagher Center was Feb. 16, 2005... The 56 rebounds for Canisius are the most for the team since the Blue and Gold registered 56 boards in a double-overtime loss at Duquesne Dec. 16, 2009... Hymes now has 161 career 3-point field goals, with 12 of those coming against Niagara... Heath's 14 rebounds gives him 8.2 rebounds per game in the team's last five contests... Freshman Franklin Milian came off the bench to score six points and pull down five rebounds in 16 minutes of play... Sophomore Reggie Groves recorded his 100th career assist in the losing effort for Canisius.