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Griffs Come Up Short Against Quinnipiac

Courtesy: Canisius College Athletics
Release: 02/20/2014
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Quinnipiac senior guard Umar Shannon scored 26 points and fellow guard Zaid Hearst chipped in 21 points, five assists and four rebounds as the visiting Bobcats defeated Canisius 88-81 in front of a sold-out Koessler Athletic Center Thursday night. The win was Quinnipiac’s sixth straight and improves the team to 19-7 overall and 13-4 in MAAC play, while the Golden Griffins saw their two-game winning streak come to and end with the loss. Canisius is now 18-10 overall and 12-5 in conference action.

For Canisius, senior guard Billy Baron scored a game-high 31 points in the loss, his eighth game of 30 points or more this season. He also added six assists, four rebounds and three steals to the Griffs’ effort. Senior forward Chris Manhertz, who returned to the starting line-up after missing three games with a broken nose, had 14 points and seven rebounds and senior Chris Perez chipped in 14 points as well. Canisius shot 44 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from 3-point land in the loss while turning the ball over just five times, but Quinnipiac controlled the rebounding battle, as the Bobcats out rebounded the Griffs by a 49-27 count.

“Quinnipiac is a very, very physical team and they crash the boards on every shot,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “It’s an attitude. They go up for the ball with a purpose. When we beat them at their place, we did it because we matched them on the glass. Tonight, to their credit, they hit shots and got rebounds, and they never really allowed us to get out in transition.”

Canisius, which trailed by as many as 19 in the opening moments of the second half, was down 68-52 with 3:41 left in the game after Quinnipiac senior Ike Azotam scored on a lay-up. From there, the Griffs tried to battle back, using a 14-5 run over the span of 1:56 to make the score 73-66 in favor of the Bobcats. During that run, Baron scored six points for the Griffs and was credited with an assist on a made 3-point field goal by fellow senior Jordan Heath. After Quinnipiac took a nine-point lead at 77-68 with 1:17 left, Baron hit a 3-pointer in transition on the Griffs’ next trip down the floor to make it a six-point contest at 77-71 with 1:14 left on the clock.

Canisius was able to trim Quinnipiac’s lead to four at 81-77 with 43 seconds left to play after Baron found redshirt freshman Phil Valenti open on the block for a lay-up, but that would be as close as the Griffs would get on the night, as Quinnipiac ended up going 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the contest’s closing 41 seconds. For the night, Quinnipiac shot 36 free-throws, and the Bobcats ended up connecting on 31 of them, led by Hearst, who went 17-for-18 from the charity stripe to set a new Koessler Athletic Center record for made free-throws by a visiting player.

Quinnipiac took the game over late in the first half with a 13-2 run in the final 3:51 of the first stanza that took the score from 29-25 to 42-27 at the break in favor of the Bobcats. In that run, Umar Shannon had five points and Hearst chipped in three points for Quinnipiac. The game started as a back-and-forth affair, with seven ties and four lead changes in the game’s first 9:31. Canisius got off to a good start early thanks to Manhertz, who scored the Griffs’ first eight points in the game’s opening 3:23 before baskets by Baron and junior Josiah Heath gave the Blue and Gold a 12-10 lead with 14:02 left before the halftime break.

As a team, Quinnipiac shot 44.6 percent from the floor, 46.7 percent from 3-point land and 86.1 percent from the free-throw line. Junior Ousmane Drame had a double-double in the win for the Bobcats, as he posted 14 points to go with a team-high 13 rebounds, with six of those coming off the offensive glass. The Griffs out scored Quinnipiac 48-26 in the paint and ended the night turning 14 Quinnipiac turnovers into 18 points.

Canisius, which now sits in fourth-place in the MAAC standings, will close out the home portion of the 2013-14 regular-season schedule on Saturday, Feb. 22, when the team plays host to Fairfield. Game time is set for 2 p.m., and prior to the game, the men’s basketball program will take time to honor Baron, Jordan Heath, Manhertz and Perez, who will be playing in their final game in the Koessler Athletic Center.

Game Notes: This was the second all-time meeting between Canisius and Quinnipiac, with each team winning on the road… The Griffs have now scored 80-plus points 16 times, the most for the program since the 1978-79 campaign… Canisius’ five turnovers matches the team’s season low – Canisius also had just five turnovers in the win over Niagara at home Jan. 22… After starting the season 8-0 at home, Canisius has now lost three straight in the Koessler Athletic Center… The crowd of 2,196 marks the third consecutive sellout of the Griffs’ home building, the first time that has happened in Koessler Athletic Center history… Baron’s eight 30-plus point games this season are the most for a Canisius player since Larry Fogle scored 30-plus 15 times in 1973-74… Baron is averaging 30.2 points per game in the Griffs’ last five contests and his 696 total points this season leaves him four points shy of becoming just the second player in school history to score 700 points in a single season… Manhertz’s seven rebounds gives him 734 for his career, which ranks seventh in school history.
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