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Canisius-Niagara Game Wrap

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.

Continue reading "Canisius-Niagara Game Wrap" »

Canisius-Niagara a Sellout

Sunday afternoon's first seasonal meeting between Canisius and Niagara is a sellout, the Griffs just announced. All 2,000-plus tickets have been purchased. The day begins with the Canisius-Niagara women's game at 1 p.m. followed by the men at 4 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN3.

-- Bob DiCesare

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

Niagara's Green POW

Niagara's Juan'ya Green has been named MAAC Player of the Week. Here's the league release:

EDISON, N.J. – Sophomore Juan’ya Green was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Week on Monday for the first time in his career.

Green helped lead the Niagara Purple Eagles to a 2-0 weekend as they defeated Marist and Fairfield to extend their conference winning streak to three games. Green averaged 26.0 points per game while shooting a blistering 65.5 percent (19-for-29) from the field and 92.3 percent (12-for-13) at the free throw-line line; he also converted on both 3-pointers he attempted. The Philadelphia native led the team with 4.0 assists per game and 3.0 steals per game. Green recorded consecutive 20-plus point games, beginning on Thursday versus Marist. Green finished with 21 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals as the Purple Eagles had season-highs in points (94) and in field goal percentage (52.2).

Green was the catalyst to NU’s first win against Fairfield since Jan. 4, 2010. Green led all scorers with a season-high 31 points, which is the most by a Purple Eagle this season, for his fourth career 30-point game. Green, who played in the entire game, scored 21 of his 31 points in the second half. Green put NU back in front twice in the second half and was clutch at the free-throw line as NU held off Fairfield for the 71-67 win. Green’s game-high 12 free throws tied a career-best and are the most this season for NU. Green added a game-high four steals and led NU with three assists.

Niagara's Green POW

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

Niagara-Fairfield Game Wrap

Niagara 71, Fairfield 67

How Niagara Won: A look at Fairfield's shooting numbers (28 of 53) might spring the conclusion the Purple Eagles somehow escaped a sub-par defensive effort. A look at Fairfield turnover count (21) shines a light on what really transpired. A lack of size leaves Niagara's zone susceptible on the interior, but their quickness creates the kind of mayhem that leads to mistakes and the Stags made too many to escape with what would have been a third straight sweep of a trip to Western New York.

Player of the Game: There was no stopping Juan'ya Green. He took the game into his own hands over the final 10 minutes, scored 15 of Niagara's final 20 points and finished with a season-high 31. It's understandable that coach Joe Mihalich wants to work freshman point guard Tahjere McCall into the mix. But the fact is Green's at his best when he's quarterbacking the offense instead of playing the 2 guard.

Best Supporting Role: Niagara center Devon White made his presence felt right from the outset with two steals inside the opening three minutes. He finished with eight points, eight rebounds, three steals and a block. But it's worrisome he picked up at least his third flagrant foul of the season. If he gets ejected at some point Niagara will have issues.

What It Means: The Purple Eagles (7-7. 2-2) retained a share of first place by knocking off a team that had won six straight, including Thursday night's destruction of Canisius at the Koessler Center. Size could be an issue for the Stags (10-6, 2-2) over the long haul but they were only a decent Derek Needham shooting night away from maybe leaving Buffalo with two wins. Needham, one of the conference's top guards, was just 5 of 17 from the field, including 1 of 9 from three.

In the House: The students are still at home but the local support (1,445) appears to be growing.

Stat Check: This shows how effective Niagara was in taking dribble-penetration straight to the basket. The Purple Eagles had 21 field goals -- and only four assists. (Green had three of them).

Stat Check II: Someone look up the last time the Purple Eagles scored 71 points with only two threes to their credit.

They Said It:

Joe Mihalich on Niagara's array of offensive weapons: "We have the luxury of (Green) having the ball or Antoine having the ball. If MJ’s in there you got to guard him because he can shoot. Now you got Devon that can score down low. Ameen. So it’s a balance and I think Juan’ya be the first guy to tell you that the reason he can play some one-on-one there is they can’t help off of Mason, they can’t help  off of MJ, they can’t help off of Dev now. Tonight was his chance to kind of take advantage of what was there. Maybe next time it could be Mason. After that it could be Devon being able to do it."

Mihalich on the mindset coming in: "We talked about being tough early because we thought that those games that they won Fairfield was the toughest team early on. So I thought we won that little game within the game."

Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson: "For us it came down to our missed free throws (6 of 15), out turnovers (21) and the free throw disparity (Niagara shot 37). Those were three things that were amazing. We were very poor from the line. We threw the ball all over the place, and Joe's team forced us to do a lot of that. And the free throws, the disparity's almost insurmountable."

Heating Up: Green had 52 points over the last two games, marking the first time this season he's gone over 20 in consecutive starts.

Cooling Off: Freshman T.J Cline's unorthodox shooting stroke might appear less ugly if a shot found the basket every now and then. He started out the season shooting 5 of 8 from three. Since then he's 9 for 50, including 0 of 4 Saturday.

Next Up: The Purple Eagles step outside the MAAC to play at Brown Tuesday night. Fairfield plays its fourth straight conference road game at Loyola Friday night then returns home Sunday for a rapid-turnaround rematch with Niagara.

-- Bob DiCesare

Niagara-Marist Game Wrap

Niagara 94, Marist 72

How Niagara Won: They looked like two teams coming off the holidays as the Purple Eagles and Red Foxes combined for miss the game's first 10 shots. Niagara kicked it in then and there, making 29 of its next 32, opening a 51-30 halftime bulge and coasting from there.

Turning Point: Marist went scoreless the opening 7 minutes and 23 seconds, fell behind 13-0 and never made a serious run.

Player of the Game: Ameen Tanksley played only 27 minutes but still came up with his third double-double of the season. His 22 points were a season-high and his 12 boards matched his season's best.

Best Supporting Role: Malcolm Lemmons scored 11 points off the bench for the second time in four games. He's made 11 of his last 16 shots from the floor. Trouble is, guard minutes are hard to come by on Monteagle Ridge.

What It Means: Niagara is 2-1 and has won its conference home opener for the first time in three years. They have a share of the MAAC lead after three games for the first time since '08-09.

Stat Check: Niagara's 94 points against just nine turnovers is quite the feat.

Stat Check II: Can someone please look up the last time Niagara scored 50 points in the paint?

In the House: Just 1,159 with the students still on break.

They Said It:

Juan'ya Green on playing more 2 guard with freshman Tanjere McCall handling some of the point: "I'm trying to adjust to it but I think it's worked out for both of us."

Niagara coach Joe Mihalich on the point position: "The feeling from our point of view is it's like I have two point guards out there."

Mihalich on Tanksley's grit: "That's when he's at his best. We talk about attitude and so forth. That's what makes Ameen a good player, when he plays that way."

Next Up: Red-hot Fairfield brings its seven-game winning streak to the Gallagher Center at 3 Saturday afternoon.

-- Bob DiCesare

Niagara-Vermont Game Wrap

Niagara 68, Vermont 58

How Niagara Won: What's the Gallagher Center turning into, Fort Niagara? The Purple Eagles forced 19 turnovers and held the Catamounts to 38 percent shooting. They've forced 41 turnovers the last two games in mouting their first winning streak of the season.

Turning Point: The first half was a grind, with Niagara holding a 19-18 advantage. The second half was barely two minutes old when the Purple Eagles had pushed their edge to 28-21. Antoine Mason had five points during the surge and the steal that led to Juan'ya Green's transition layup.

Player of the Game: Mason a sophomore is a different player than Mason the freshman. He's taking better shots and as a result he's making more shots. His 25 points matched his season high set against St. Francis in the second game of the season.

Best Supporting Role: Juan'ya Green scored all 17 of his points in the second half. Green has shown a penchant for becoming more assertive offensively after intermission.

Stat Check: Freshman T.J. Cline came off the bench to pull down a team-high 10 boards in 23 minutes.

Stat Check II: Niagara shot 54.5 percent in the second half (12 of 22) after a 25 percent first half (7 of 28).

What It Means: Niagara (5-6) has won two in a row for the first time this season.

In the House: There were 1,491 at the Gallagher Center with many of the students already on break.

They Said It

Niagara coach Joe Mihalich on what the addition of fifth-year senior transfer Devon White has meant to the defense:

"We knew Devon would make us a better defensive team. He's a big person. He takes up space. He has good instincts. He's active. As he gets in better and better shape I think he'll foul less."

Mason on the addition of White:

"They could see he's a big presence so we can get up on them with more confidence that we have help."

Mihalich on what defense Niagara's actually playing:

"It's good that you can't tell what it is. Now the problem is sometimes we don't know. We're just out there scrambling around."

Next Up: Niagara plays its penultimate non-conference game of the season Friday night at No. 22 Notre Dame.

-- Bob DiCesare

Niagara-Hartford Game Wrap

Niagara 75, Hartford 59

How Niagara Won: The Purple Eagles managed to dictate an up-tempo game midway through the first half thanks to their work on the defensive end. They scored 14 straight en route to a 37-20 halftime lead and never were seriously threatened.

Player of the Game: Antoine Mason puts up the points so consistently it's easy to overlook him. Let's not. He had a game-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting and added seven boards, three assists and three steals. His 15-footer with about three minutes left righted the ship after Hartford rallied to within 10.

Best Supporting Role: Ameen Tanksley matched his season high with 16 points and had a season-best 12 rebounds.

Off the Bench: Malcolm Lemmons was a burst of energy for Niagara. He scored 11 points and had five rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes. He was as responsible as anybody for helping Niagara out of its early slumber.

What It Means: Victory No. 250 for Niagara coach Joe Mihalich. It was the first time all season Niagara (4-6) had all its players available.

Stat Check: Niagara went 14 of 23 from the field in the second half, which helped it overcome 11 turnovers.

Stat Check II: For the game Niagara shot 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from behind the arc and 70 percent from the free throw line. I'll bet it's been a long time since that's happened.

Did You Know: Hartford sophomore Nate Sikma is the son of nine-time NBA All-Star Jack Sikma. He had three points and three rebounds in 30 minutes but turned it over six times.

They Said It: "I don't know how many people know this, but he (Lemmons) missed about three weeks of the preseason. It made a difference for him. . . . So I think that screwed him up a little bit and he's getting it back." -- Mihalich.

"We actually have everybody on the court in practice so it's fun. It's going to be a fun year." -- Mason on Niagara getting back to full health.

"We made some substitutions and some young kids made some rushed plays. To the credit of Niagara, they went after those young kids. Then the flows of the game becomes Niagara's." -- Hartford coach John Gallagher.

"I say it all the time, I'm living the dream. I'm just lucky to be here, lucky to coach guys like these two (Mason and Tanksley) and the rest of the guys on the team. I'm lucky. I'm a lucky guy. I know it too." -- Mihalich on win No. 250.

In the House: There were 1,556 at Taps on a night when the 16th-ranked hockey team was playing across the way at Dwyer Arena.

Next Up: Niagara's home to Vermont at 2 Sunday afternoon. The Catamounts are 6-3 and should contend in America East.

-- Bob DiCesare

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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 |