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Canisius-Niagara game analysis

Game analysis: Billy Baron did allow a buzzer to decide his team's fate this time around. Billy the Kid had his stroke going early and often against rival Niagara to the tune of 33 points as Canisius avenged its last-second loss two weeks at home, 77-70, on Sunday.

How Canisius won: Showered with chants of, "Daddy's Boy," Baron made his father proud especially with all the pounding he took in a physical game. Baron missed out playing the full 40 minutes only because he sat out two after hurting his ankle. Niagara was able to dig out of a first-half hole but failed to come up with a key basket in the final minutes. Antoine Mason, the team's go-to scorer, sat out the game with an ankle injury.

Turning Point: Baron broke a tie at 64 with a layup and then Canisius ceased control of the game when Jordan Heath followed a Harold Washington miss with a two-handed jam.

Player of the Game: Can't say enough about Baron.

Unsung player of the game: Washington has been fighting a viral infection the last few days but came through with 18 points and four assists.

Key stat: The Griffs had 16 turnovers and just six assists.

Key stat II: Niagara shot just 12 of 23 from the charity stripe.

What It Means: Despite the loss, Niagara remains in first place in the MAAC at 10-4, while Canisius is in a three-way tie for second.

Long time coming: Canisius won at Niagara for the first time since Nov. 30, 2002.

Tough night: Marvin Jordan hit the winning shot to beat Canisius in their last matchup but was scoreless this time around.

Working overtime: Referee Jeff Anderson worked Sunday's game after officiating Saturday's five overtime marathon between Notre Dame-Louisville game in South Bend. When asked how much sleep he got Anderson said, "Four hours."

In the House: Green Bay Packers running back and Niagara Falls native James Stark and NU great Tyrone Lewis were among the capacity crowd of 2,400 at the Gallagher Center.

He said it: "He was leading the team and we followed." - Harold Washington on Billy Baron.

Up next: The Golden Griffins play at Loyola while the Purple Eagles travel to Marist, both on Thursday.

---Rodney McKissic

Siena-Canisius game analysis

Game analysis: Billy Baron and Harold Washington combined for 14 points but it didn't matter because defense was the fuel that drove Canisius to a 76-44 victory over struggling Siena.

How Canisius won: Canisius likes to run and gun with little regard for defense so the numbers against the Saints were staggering. They held Siena to 32.7 percent shooting, forced 20 turnovers and had 13 steals and six blocks. They also pressured Siena point guard Evan Hymes into nine turnovers. The Saints 44 points scored tied a Koessler Center record for fewest points by an opponent.

Turning Point: Seriously, Siena was never in this game. After Canisius took a 7-4 lead, it outscored the Saints 35-15 by halftime.

Player of the Game: At 6-6 Chris Manhertz may be undersized but it's undervalued: 12 points, 11 boards, two blocks.

Key stat: Canisius committed just four turnovers, one in the first half.

Welcome back: Alshwan Hymes returned to the lineup after serving a suspension for a violation of team rules scored 11 points on 5 of 8 from the floor in 24 minutes. He's apparently back in the good graces of coach Jim Baron.

"He gives us high energy off the bench and that's important," Baron said. "As we move forward, everyone needs to know their role. Whenever you take over a program, it's always balancing it out and it's a team effort. Everybody wins when we win. When you play in a league like this - and I'm coming from the Atlantic 10 - you need a good amount of players. You need a bench. And the way we play uptempo, pushing the ball and attacking, we need guys off the bench to give us quality minutes and that was important today."

What It Means: Canisius moves up to 12-7 overall and 5-2 in MAAC play.

In the House: 2,001 on Hall of Fame Day.

He said it: "It was one of our best defensive efforts with guys understanding what we needed to do with post position help defense and keeping guys in front. We have to carry it over because we have two games this week that are going to be very, very challenging, one on the road at Rider and coming back with Niagara so we have to take them one game at a time." - Canisius coach Jim Baron

Up next: The Golden Griffins hit the road against Rider for a 7 p.m. game Friday.

---Rodney McKissic

UB-Kent State game anaylsis

Game analysis: Javon McCrea carried UB's offense with 33 points, a career best, while adding 10 rebounds and 15 of 15 from the free-throw line. While he shot 9 of 12, his teammates shot a dreadful 7 of 31 in a 80-68 loss to Kent State.

How UB lost: McCrea could use some help - even Jordan had Pippen - and the Bulls could shoot the ball better from long distance (3-22). Taking better care of the ball would be a plus, too. Of the Bulls 20 turnovers, Kent State converted nearly half in transition and finished with 21 points total.

Turning Point: When McCrea converted a layup with 8:52 remaining to give the Bulls a 62-58 lead, it was UB's final field goal of the game. They finished the game 0 for 10 overall with four turnovers. The game was knotted at 66 when Kent State's Devareux Manley gave the Flashes the lead for good on a 3-pointer with 4:42 left in the game. The Bulls were behind, 72-68 with 1:59 left before Kent State closed out the game with a 7-0 run.

Player of the Game: Randal Holt scored 19 of his team-high 27 points in the second half.

Key stat: UB recorded just nine assists.

Foul!: A total of 55 fouls were called which meant plenty of trips to the free-throw line. UB went 38 times and made 33, while the Flashes were 25 of 36.

T him up!: Reggie Witherspoon was issued a technical foul with 55 seconds left in the game for stepping out of the coaches box. Witherspoon yelled at the clock operators for resetting the shot clock after Kent State missed a shot and UB had possession briefly before Kent State got the ball back. UB was down by six at the time and after Holt made two free throws Xavier Ford committed a foul on Chris Evans who hit two more to give Kent a, 78-68 lead with 43 seconds remaining. Witherspoon yelled at the operators: "Why don't you ever make a mistake that benefits us?"

What It Means: The Bulls fall to 0-3 in the MAC, their worst start since 2002-03.

In the House: Former UB football coach Craig Cirbus (1995-00) was among the 3,057 at Alumni Arena.

He said it: "It was a great performance by him and he's a great player. He's one of the best players to come into this league in a long time and he played great. He's a tough matchup for a lot of teams and he was a tough matchup for us." - Kent State coach Rob Senderoff.

Up next: The Bulls host Bowling Green at 7 p.m. Saturday.

---Rodney McKissic

Marist-Canisius game analysis

Game analysis: This was a little more like the Canisius team we've seen over the last month or so. They shot 56 percent in the first half and built a 16-point lead in the second. While Marist whittled the advantage down to six in the last few minutes, the Golden Griffins held on for a 73-64 win on Saturday.

How Canisius won: The offensive punch missing from Thursday's loss against Fairfield returned against Marist. Isaac Sosa was 5 of 11 from 3-point range and finished with a team-high 22 points while Billy Baron added 17 points and 10 assists. The Griffs were 10 of 23 from beyond the arc.

Turning Point: The 9-0 run to start the game was huge for Canisius, who struggled to find anything positive offensively from the Fairfield blow out. Baron set the tone by nailing his first two threes and everything fell into place.

Player of the Game: Sosa's stretch of four consecutive 3-pointers gave the Griffs enough breathing room to hold back hard-charging Marist at the end.

Unsung player of the game: Chris Manhertz. You'll be hard pressed to find someone who works the boards harder than the 6-6 glass master from the Bronx. He grabbed 14 rebounds and when you factor in his 18-rebound effort against the Red Foxes on Dec. 9, he averaged 16 boards in two games against Marist. He also averaged 6.5 offensive rebounds.

Key stat: Marist's bench went scoreless.

Key stat II: Canisius had 17 assists AND 17 turnovers. Not good.

Suspended: Senior guard Alshwan Hymes was been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. A source said Hymes got into an argument with an assistant coach. Hymes seemed to be working his way out of the guard rotation recently and in his last five games he was just 3 of 9 and hadn't attempted a 3-pointer in the last two. He played just three minutes on Thursday against Fairfield.

"It's a team issue, that's what it is," coach Jim Baron said. "We'll see, we're taking it day to day. It's my decision."

What It Means: Canisius and rival Niagara are tied for first place in the MAAC at 3-1. Way too early to get excited.

In the House: 1,401 at the KAC.

He said it: "He's got a will. It's hard when a kid has will. He's not excepting a box out." - Marist Chuck Martin coach on Manherz.

Up next: Canisius hits the road for last place Siena at 7 p.m. on Friday.

---Rodney McKissic

Alcorn-Canisius game analysis

Game analysis: A sore heel kept Harold Washington scoreless probably for the first time since he was a toddler, but Canisius managed to pick up the slack as four players finished in double figures as the Golden Griffins downed Alcorn State, 87-74

How Canisius won: Isaac Sosa picked up the slack for Washington with 21 points of 8 of 12 shooting and 5 of 9 from long range. They also went to the line 33 times, making 24, while outrebounding the Braves, 41-25.

Turning Point: There's something about Billy Baron where his intensity increases whenever Canisius is on the verge of trouble. Alcorn State cut the lead down to 65-53 with 8:31 left when Baron connected on a trey then fed Reggie Groves for another on the Griffs next possession. The 12-point advantage was up to 26 by the 4:33 mark which was started by the play of Baron.

Player of the Game: Sosa rarely fires up questionable shots, kind of like a hitter who never swings at bad pitches.

Welcome back: In the three games since returning from a foot injury, Alcorn's Marquiz Baker has scored 23 points against Santa Clara, 24 against SMU and now 30 against Canisius.

Family affair: Jimmy Baron, who played for his father at Rhode Island, is home for the holidays and is playing well in Russia. It was the first time Jimmy watched his brother, Billy, in person.

Key stat: Canisius grabbed 16 offensive rebounds which led to 26 second-chance points.

What It Means: This is the longest Canisius has gone without losing back-to-back games since the 1997-98 season.

In the House: 1,388

He Said It: "He knows how to make players better, he's not afraid to do that and I think he's getting better and better as the year goes on." - Jim Baron on his son Billy.

Up next: Canisius plays at 3 p.m. Sunday at Detroit.

---Rodney McKissic

Niagara 45, St. Francis 24 (H)

What do we have here? A formidable low-post presence for the Purple Eagles. And not just one, but two? Goodness.

Freshman T.J. Cline and sophomore Joe Thomas have combined for 19 points and 11 rebounds in helping Niagara open a 21-point halftime lead. What's more, they were a combined 8 of 8 from the field. I'm guessing Niagara hasn't gotten 19 points in a half out of its front line since Juan Mendez graduated in '05.

Antoine Mason tops all scorers at half with 13 points.

Niagara shot 50 percent in the half despite hitting just 4 of 16 threes.

-- Bob DiCesare

Niagara Opener

Here we go with the opener of the 63rd season of basketball at The Taps. Niagara (0-1) against St. Francis (Pa.) (0-1). Niagara's coming off a 102-83 loss at Oregon State in which the Purple Eagles sank 16 threes, the most since 2008. They're 13th in the nation in three-point percentage (47 percent), a drastic turnaround from the early part of last season, when they hovered at or near the bottom of the national rankings in the category.

St. Francis suffered a six-point loss at Penn State in the opener.

This has always been one of my favorite places to cover a college game. The crowd's tight to the floor, the students are usually vocal and it makes for a crazy atmosphere that feeds into Niagara's frenetic style.

Can't do a live game feed because the two apps I need are refusing to recognize each other. So I'll try to get something up at halftime and follow with the game wrap shortly afterward.

-- Bob DiCesare

Niagara Opener

Source: Baron offered Canisius job

---Former St. Bonaventure coach Jim Baron has been offered the job at Canisius multiple sources have told The News.

Baron, who was fired after 11 years at Rhode Island, is in negotiations with the school and is seeking additional funds for assistant coaches to help build a stronger infrastructure in the program.

While waiting on a commitment from Baron, Canisius AD Bill Maher is still talking to candidates in case Baron turns down the job. A source told The News that Maher on Wednesday spoke with Jayson Gee, the associate head coach at Cleveland State and former a St. Bonaventure assistant.

Baron, who coached at St. Bonaventure from 1992-01, had four consecutive 20-win seasons at Rhode Island before last season’s 7-24 finish and was fired a year after he agreed to a contract extension through the 2013-14 season. He has a career record of 390-367 (.515).

Norfolk State's Anthony Evans and Rhode Island College's Bob Walsh are also candidates, according to sources.

---Rodney McKissic


Audio from Tallahassee: Moritz previews Bona-Marist matchup

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The News' Amy Moritz previews the NCAA Tournament second-round matchup between St. Bonaventure and Marist. The game tips off at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday. Moritz will also be live blogging during the game and providing postgame audio analysis.

Download audio 

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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |