JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The Canisius men’s basketball team jumped out to a 43-22 lead at the half and was able to withstand a strong second-half effort from the host Saint Peter’s Peacocks to post a 67-63 victory Saturday afternoon in the Yanitelli Center in Jersey City, N.J. The win improves Canisius to 9-5 overall and 3-0 in MAAC play, while Saint Peter’s slipped to 4-9 overall and 0-4 in conference play.
Canisius senior Billy Baron scored 25 points to lead the Griffs to their third-straight conference victory, the first time the Blue and Gold has opened league play with three-straight wins since 1994-95. Senior Chris Manhertz had 12 points and seven rebounds while fellow senior Chris Perez chipped in 11 points and four boards. Senior center Jordan Heath was good for eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks and freshman Zach Lewis scored eight points to go with two rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes off the bench. For the game, Canisius shot 44.4 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point land and 90 percent from the free-throw line.
In the game’s second half, Saint Peter’s out scored Canisius 41-24 thanks to the efforts of Marvin Dominique, Desi Washington and Chris Burke. That trio combined to score 39 of the Peacocks’ 41 points, led by Dominique, who had 16 of his game-high 26 points in the game’s final 20 minutes. Saint Peter’s trimmed Canisius’ cushion to just two points at 62-60 with 47 seconds left, but the Griffs secured the win after Lewis hit an NBA-range 3-pointer from the left wing with two seconds on the shot clock and 15 seconds left on the game clock to make the score 65-62.
“That was a huge shot there from Zach [Lewis] with the shot clock running down,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “We came out firing and executing our offense in the first half and in the second half, to their credit, Saint Peter’s came back at us. That’s a good league win for us on the road. Nothing is going to be given to you in league play, and our guys did a good job of stepping up and taking this one today.”
Canisius came out of the gate on fire, opening the game with a 12-0 run through the game’s first 5:01. The Griffs took a 22-point lead with 11:20 left before the break on a 3-pointer from Lewis and moments later the Blue and Gold advanced its margin to 23 at 30-7 on a jumper in the lane by Perez. Baron drove the ball to the bucket and laid one off the glass for two of his 18 first half points to give the Griffs’ a 24-point lead at 41-17 with 3:38 left in the first half. Canisius went into the locker room at the break with a 21-point lead, it’s largest halftime lead of the season, after the team shot 50 percent from the floor and 53.3 percent from 3-point land.
In the second half, Saint Peter’s used a 17-6 run in the first 6:04 to cut Canisius’ margin to 10 points at 49-39. The Peacocks were able to whittle Canisius’ lead down to just one at 57-56 after Dominique went 1-for-2 from the free-throw line with 4:46 left on the clock, but five-straight points from Manhertz, highlighted by a traditional 3-point play on a dunk and a made free-throw, pushed the Griffs’ margin back to six at 62-56 with 1:49 left to play. Dominique and Washington scored the game’s next four points for Saint Peter’s to make it a two-point game at 62-60, but Lewis’ deep trey on the Griffs’ next possession capped the game for the Blue and Gold.
In the second half, Saint Peter’s shot 50 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point land. The Peacocks won the rebounding battle, out rebounding Canisius 34-32 for the game, led by Dominique, who had 10 rebounds to lead all players.
Canisius will close out its three-game road stretch Monday, Jan. 6, when the team plays at Marist. Game time in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is set for 7 p.m.Game Notes: This marks the second time since 1989-90 where Canisius has started conference play 3-0, the previous occasion came in 1994-95 when the team started MAAC play with a 5-0 mark… Saturday’s game was the 71st all-time meeting between Canisius and Saint Peter’s, with the Griffs leading the series 40-31… Canisius swept the regular-season series from Saint Peter’s for the second-straight year… The Griffs improved to 3-0 this year in games decided by five points or less… Baron has now scored 20 or more points in nine times this season and 24 times in his college career… The game was the 99th career contest for Manhertz and the 105th career game for Perez… Lewis has now hit two 3-point field goals in four-straight games, dating back to the team’s win at Holy Cross Dec. 16… Heath’s three blocks gives him 80 for his career in 45 career games as a Griff.