Five Canisius College players scored in double figures, led by junior Billy Baron and his team-high 18 points, and the Golden Griffins were able to turn 24 Buffalo turnovers into 27 points as Canisius improved to 3-0 on the year with a 71-64 victory over the visiting Bulls Tuesday night in front of a sellout crowd in the Koessler Athletic Center. Buffalo dropped its third straight overall and is now 1-5 on the season.
Baron added five assists and a career-high four steals to the winning effort as the Blue and Gold improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2000-01. Junior Jordan Heath had 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots for Canisius, while senior guard Harold Washington added 12 points and five assists. Junior Chris Manhertz chipped in 11 points, three rebounds and two steals for Canisius, which ended the night shooting 40 percent from the field, 23.8 percent from 3-point land and 77.8 percent from the free-throw line.
For Buffalo, junior Javon McCrea had a game-high 22 points and pulled down six rebounds while sophomore Will Regan added 15 points and six boards. The Bulls out rebounded Canisius by a 39-25 clip and held a 38-34 advantage in points scored in the paint, but in the end, the Bulls’ 24 turnovers proved to be too much to overcome.
“This was another hard-fought, physical rivalry game,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “Buffalo is very physical and very aggressive. I thought we did a good job in the second half getting offensive rebounds. We had two in the first half and grabbed 10 in the second half. We had a bunch of guys score for us tonight and we did a nice job sharing the ball with 19 assists. We didn’t shoot it real well, but we won this game with our aggressive defense and we made our free-throws late in the game.”
The game was tight midway through the first half before the Griffs ripped off an 11-2 run over the span of 2:50, with Baron accounting for nine of Canisius’ 11 points during the spurt that gave the Blue and Gold a 28-22 lead with 7:17 left before the halftime break. Canisius stretched its lead to as many as seven points at 31-24 with 4:20 left in the opening half, but the Bulls chipped away and got the game within a basket after Jarod Oldham drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make the score 33-31 in favor of the Griffs. Canisius charged back and led by a score of 40-34, but Buffalo answered again with four-straight points in the final 58 seconds of the first stanza to send the teams into the locker room with Canisius leading 40-38.
In the second half, the game went back-and-forth again in the opening 3:23 before a jumper by Buffalo guard Jarryn Skeete made it a one-point game at 47-46. From there, the Blue and Gold used an 8-1 run over 2:11 to take a 55-47 lead, capped by a lay-up by Jordan Heath off a pass from Washington. Buffalo trimmed Canisius’ cushion to three points on two separate occasions, but three-straight buckets by Washington, Heath and senior Alshwan Hymes pushed Canisius to a nine-point hold at 63-54 with 6:42 left on the clock. Canisius’ lead hovered around nine until the Bulls rattled off five points to make the score 67-62 in favor of Canisius. Out of a Canisius timeout, Heath was able to make a pass to senior Isaac Sosa as he was falling out-of-bounds, and Sosa drove to the hoop and laid one off the glass to give Canisius the 69-62 lead with 21 seconds remaining. McCrea made a lay-up on Buffalo’s next possession, but Sosa knocked down two free-throws with eight seconds left to seal the victory for Canisius.
Oldham scored nine points and dished out nine rebounds in the losing effort for Buffalo, which shot 52.2 percent from the floor, 31.3 percent from 3-point land and 78.6 percent from the free-throw line for the game. Auraum Nuiriankh chipped in eight points for the Bulls, who saw their four-game winning streak in the Koessler Athletic Center come to an end with the loss.
Canisius will open its first road swing of the season on Saturday, Nov. 24, when the team plays at Stony Brook. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m. That game against the Seawolves will open the Griffs’ five-game road stretch that will keep the Blue and Gold playing road games until Dec. 15.
Game Notes: This was the 45th all-time meeting between these two schools, with Canisius holding a 30-15 advantage in the series… In the last 50 years, Canisius has been 3-0 just five times (including this season)… The Griffs defeated Buffalo and St. Bonaventure in the same season for the first time since 2003-04… Washington saw his stretch of 20 or more points scored end at four, dating back to last year… His 12 points gives him double figures in the scoring column in 29 of his first 33 career games in a Canisius uniform… Canisius had five players score in double figures for the first time since Feb. 4, 2011 when the Griffs beat Marist at home… The sellout crowd was the 13th in the Koessler Athletic Center since the building was renovated in 2002-03… Prior to Tuesday night, the last time a Canisius-Buffalo game in the Koessler Athletic Center sold out was Nov. 10, 2006.