Senior guard Frank Turner and junior forward Elton Frazier combined to score nine of Canisius' 11 points in overtime to help lift the Golden Griffins to a 73-70 overtime win over long-time rival Niagara in front of a sellout crowd in the Koessler Athletic Center Friday night. The win improves the Blue and Gold to 11-11 overall and 6-5 in the MAAC, while the Purple Eagles slipped to 11-12 overall and 4-7 in conference play.
Frazier finished the night with a game-high 20 points and a team-best 10 rebounds for his third career double-double, while Turner chipped in 18 points, five assists and four steals as Canisius posted just its second win over Niagara since the 2002-03 season.
"I thought this was a great college basketball game with two long-time rivals going at each other all night," Canisius head coach Tom Parrotta said. "Niagara's obviously a very, very good team that never quits, and that makes this win all the more gratifying. We could have folded up our tents down the stretch because we struggled to get good looks at the basket and had some turnovers, but we just kept battling. I'm so happy the people here were treated to something special. This was the best crowd we've had since I've been here on campus. All around, it was just a great night for this team."
Niagara forced overtime by outscoring Canisius 8-0 in the final 4:01 of regulation. In the extra session, the Purple Eagles jumped out to a 64-62 lead 18 seconds in on a jumper by Rob Garrison. From there, Canisius went on a 9-0 run over a span of the next 4:10, capped by a free throw by Frazier to make the score 71-76 in favor of the Griffs. In that 9-0 run, Frazier scored four points and Turner added five, highlighted by a 25-foot 3-pointer with 42 ticks left on the clock.
Niagara hit two threes late in overtime to keep the game close, with Tyrone Lewis' 3-pointer from the top of the key with 15 seconds left making the score 72-70 in favor of Canisius, but Turner would seal the win for the Griffs by making one of two tosses from the free-throw line.
Canisius trailed 34-32 at the break after Niagara shot 40 percent from the field in the game's first 20 minutes. In the open moments of the second half, Canisius regained the lead at 35-34 on a trey by Julius Coles, and the game would remain tight until the 5:36 mark, with neither team holding a lead of more than five points before the Griffs scored four-straight points on a jumper by Frazier and a lay-up by Coles. Leading 62-54 with 4:01 left to play, the Purple Eagles mounted their comeback to send the game to overtime, with Anthony Nelson scoring six-straight points for Niagara, all from the free-throw line.
For the game, the Griffs shot 42.4 percent from the field, 40 percent from behind the 3-point arc and 52.9 percent from the free-throw line, while Niagara closed out the night shooting 34.7 percent from the field, 23.7 percent from 3-point range and 69.2 percent from the charity stripe. Niagara took 38 shots from 3-point range in the loss, and closed out the contest with a 48-44 advantage on the glass.
Lewis led all Niagara scorers with 19 points, while senior Bilal Benn added 15 to the losing effort. Nelson was credited with his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Griffs will return to action Monday, Feb. 1, when the team travels to Iona to take on the Gaels in a MAAC-TV game. Tipoff in New Rochelle, N.Y., is slated for 7 p.m.
Game Notes: The win at home over Niagara is Canisius' second
in the last three seasons, but the Purple Eagles still lead the all-time series
90-74... Canisius has played more games against Niagara (164) than any other
opponent in school history... Canisius and Niagara have played 17 overtime games
in the series, with the Blue and Gold leading that portion of the all-time
series 9-8... Frazier's double-double was his second this year... Junior Robert
Goldsberry scored two points in the win, with his lay-up in overtime putting
Canisius up three at 67-64 with 1:34 left on the clock... Turner's 18 points
leaves him one point shy of former Griff Bill O'Connor for fourth all-time in
career scoring... He now has 1,629 career points, and his five assists gives him
547, four shy of the school's career assist record... Tomas Vazquez-Simmons'
three blocks gives him 180 for his career, four shy of the school's career
blocked shot record... The announced crowd of 2,196 is the largest crowd to see a
men's game in the Koessler Athletic Center since the building was renovated
prior to the 2002-03 season... Some of the face in the record crowd included former Griffs Brian Dux, Andy Bush and Kevin Downey.