Niagara 66, Canisius 65
How Niagara Won: Marvin Jordan's three from the left corner with 2.9 seconds remaining stood as the winning points when Billy Baron's last-instant jumper was deemed to have come after time expired. Jordan's shot was set up by point guard Juan'ya Green, who raced up court, drove the lane and dished off as defenders converged.
Player of the Game: Jordan struck for a season-high 23 points on a night when leading scorers Antoine Mason and Green were limited by foul trouble. He played 34 minutes and went 9 of 18 from the floor with four rebounds and three steals.Player of the Game (Losing Effort): Inconsistent his first two season, Griffs junior forward Chris Manhertz has grown into a force. He went for a career-high 17 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, eight of them offensive. Manhertz excels on the offensive boards. Now the Griffs should start working him into the offense.
Best Supporting Role: Green had just nine points -- seven below his average -- but countered with eight assists, five rebounds and five steals. He also played a role in Niagara's second-half shutdown of Isaac Sosa (14 points, only three after intermission).
Stat Check: Niagara used guard penetration to its advantage and went to the foul line 16 times, eight more than the Griffs.
Stat Check II: Jordan's big afternoon keyed Niagara's massive 30-6 advantage in benching scoring.
Missing: The Griffs played their second straight game with big man Freddy Asprilla, who sprained an ankle against Siena on Jan. 19.
Percentages: Niagara shot 40.7 percent from the field, 24 percent from three and 75 percent from the line. Canisius wwas 38.5-32.3-62.5.
In the House: The game sold out a week in advance and the crowd of 2,196 provided a big-time atmosphere. Great to see the Canisius student body out in full force. And Niagara filling its section.
What It Means: The Purple Eagles remain in sole possession of the MAAC lead at 9-1, a start last achieved in 1998-99, Joe Mihalich's first year as coach. Canisius fell to 6-4 and remains tied for fourth. Both are 13-8 overall.
Streaking: Niagara's nine straight regular-season MAAC wins is a school record.
The Series: Niagara says it leads, 100-73. Canisius says it trails, 96-75. The schools are promising to clean up the match before the Feb. 10 rematch.
They Said It
Marvin Jordan on waiting to find out who won: "I just went to go sit down for a minute; I'd been cramping all night. I couldn't even watch them decide on if it was good or not."
Antoine Mason on bouncing back from foul trouble to score nine of his 14 in the second half: "I just had to be aggressive. I know we rely on getting to the line and making shots so I just wanted to do my part."
Manhertz on Baron's disallowed heroics: "I watched the whole play as it all happened. Wasn't sure if it came off in time but it looked good from my view. When they started looking at the tape and I saw the other team celebrating, I knew, I just knew, I had a gut feeling that it wasn't meant to be, that it didn't happen the way we wanted it to happen."
Canisius coach Jim Baron on Niagara: "They stepped up. They got to the foul line a lot more than we did, We told our guys to step in and take charges and we didn't get one call on that. That was real disappointing. I'm looking forward to seeing the film on that. But they made shots. They made shots on us and we turned it over I thought at some crucial times.
"I still thought we did some poor things with defending against them, we put them on the foul line, we turned the ball over and we fell short with making shots. That's it. We fell short with making shots and they made enough."
Jim Baron on missing Asprilla: "We need his body and we need him to give us some quality minutes because he's very physical, very aggressive. All of a sudden now you're down to three post guys. . . . We were trying to work some magic there. We'll see. Hopefully we can try to get him ready for Thursday's game."
Niagara coach Joe Mihalich: "Any league you play in seems like that toughest in the country but, man, I tell you it just seems like every night . . . "
Next Up: This is a HUGE week in the MAAC as second-place Iona and third-place Loyola both his town. Niagara gets Iona Thursday and Loyola Saturday. Canisius has Loyola Thursday and Iona Saturday. Iona handed Niagara its lone conference loss way back on Nov. 28.
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedBig 4 | Canisius | College basketball | Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference | Niagara