After an eight-day layoff, the Canisius women’s basketball team bounced back with a 62-53 win over rival Niagara University in a Battle of the Bridge contest in the Koessler Athletic Center on Friday. The Golden Griffins improve to 9-13 overall and 5-8 in the MAAC, winning for the third time in their last four home games.
Senior Jamie Ruttle matched her season high with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Freshman Lauren D’Hont scored a career-high 14 points and also made a career-best four 3-pointers. Redshirt junior Courtney VandeBovenkamp had seven points and grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds and four blocks.
“I thought we were a little sluggish after the long layoff and felt Courtney got us a lot of energy to get the team going,” Canisius coach Terry Zeh said. “In the second half of the conference schedule, other players have to step up and Lauren did that today.
“We stuck to our defensive game plan throughout the entire game and found a way to win against our rival.”
Both teams struggled offensively to start the game as the Griffs started 2-for-15 from the floor but were able to keep Niagara from building a big lead early in the game. Niagara led by as many as seven points, taking a 15-8 lead with 6:54 left on a 3-pointer from Meghan McGuinness, her only 3-pointer of the game. The Griffs would score the next 10 points, with a 3-pointer from the wing from D’Hont giving Canisius a 18-15 lead with 3:10 left. The Griffs extended that run to a 17-4 spurt to close out the half and build a 25-19 advantage, their biggest lead of the first half.
The second half featured more of an up-tempo pace as Canisius would never relinquish the lead. Niagara cut the lead to 36-33 but the Griffs used a couple of fast-break baskets, including a layup off a spin move from sophomore Crystal Porter, to go up 42-33 with just over eight minutes left.
Niagara (7-15, 5-8 MAAC) cut the deficit to 45-43 with just over five minutes left but Canisius put the game away by scoring the next nine points, including seven from Ruttle. The senior’s 3-pointer with 2:46 left put Canisius up by nine and a layup by Ruttle capped the run and gave the Griffs an 11-point lead.
Val McQuade led Niagara with 14 points who shot 31.7 percent from the floor to go along with 17 turnovers. Canisius controlled the glass with 48 rebounds and only allowed Niagara to have nine offensive rebounds and the Purple Eagles scored 15 second-change points in the first meeting.
Canisius returns to the road for a road game at Quinnipiac on Sunday. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m., with the game being shown live on ESPN3.
Notes: The teams split the regular-season series for the third consecutive season... VandeBovenkamp had five or more rebounds for the fifth time in the last six games… D’Hont is now 9-for-13 from behind the arc in the last three games… Ruttle scored in double figures for a team-best 12th time this season… Canisius had 16 assists on 20 made baskets… Sophomore Tiahana Mills recorded five assists and one turnover in 35 minutes… Canisius was 15-for-27 from the free-throw line, shooting below 60 percent from the charity stripe for the seventh time this season… The Griffs recorded a season-high nine blocks… The win was worth two points in the all-sports Battle of the Bridge competition and Canisius now leads 10.5 to 7.5. The Griffs need 16.5 points to win the Canal Cup for the fourth consecutive season.