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Second-half run pushes Canisius men's basketball past Saint Peter’s

Takal Molson

CANISIUS COLLEGE ATHLETICS



Canisius used a 13-0 run over the span 3:07 midway through the second half to turn a three-point deficit into a 10-point lead, as the Golden Griffins went on the road and beat Saint Peter's 64-60 Sunday afternoon at the Yanitelli Center in Jersey City, N.J. The win, Canisius' eighth road victory of the season, improved the Blue and Gold to 11-13 overall and 8-4 in MAAC play, while the Peacocks fell to 6-17 overall and 3-8 in conference action with their fifth-straight loss.
 
Canisius trailed 52-49 as the clock clicked under 8:00 in regulation time before freshman Jordan Henderson drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to start the decisive run and knot the game at 52-52. Sophomore Takal Molson gave Canisius the lead for good moments later when he scored a four-point play with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and the ensuing free-throw with 6:08 left in the game to make the score 56-52 in favor of the visiting team. Molson stretched the Griffs' lead to 59-52 on the Griffs' next possession with another 3-pointer and sophomore Scott Hitchon capped the run with a trey from the top of the key with 4:39 remaining to give Canisius a 62-52 advantage with 4:39 left on the clock.
 
Down the stretch, Saint Peter's scored eight-straight points to get within two at 62-60 with 6.1 seconds left, but the Griffs were able to grab the rebound on a missed free-throw by Saint Peter's guard Davauhnte Turner. Saint Peter's had three fouls to give with 5.2 seconds left, but the Peacocks were unable to force a Canisius turnover, and junior Malik Johnson nailed a pair of free-throws with 2.4 seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Griffs.
 
Molson ended the day with a game-high 21 points, with 14 of those coming in the game's first 20 minutes. He also grabbed five boards to go with two assists and a steal. Johnson finished with 11 points, a game-high eight assists, four boards and 40 steals in 40 minutes, while Hitchon added 11 points, two assists and a blocked shot in the victory. For the game, Canisius shot 48.1 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from 3-point range and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line, while turning 16 Saint Peter's turnovers into 21 points.
 
For Saint Peter's, Derrick Woods came off the bench to record a team-high 14 points to go with six boards, a blocked shot and a steal. Senior Samuel Idowu chipped in 11 points and six rebounds as well for the Peacocks, who out-rebounded the Griffs 32-20 for the game, with 10 of those boards coming off the offensive glass. Saint Peter's shot 43.8 percent from the field, made 5-of-17 shots from 3-point land and 13-of-16 chances from the charity stripe.
 
Early on, Canisius led 4-3, but the Peacocks used a 16-4 run over a span of 4:46 to take an 11-point lead at 19-8. The Griffs were able to battle back and the game went into the locker room tied at 32-32 after Hitchon grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on the put-back with 6.2 seconds left in the opening session. In the second half, neither team led by more than four points before Saint Peter's used a 6-0 scoring spurt, capped by a 3-pointer by Klay Brown, to give the Peacocks a 50-44 lead with 11:27 left to play. Canisius answered with a jumper by Johnson and a corner-three by Faulkner to get within one at 50-49, but Idowu hit a pair from the line to give Saint Peter's the 52-49 lead before the Griffs' decisive run.
 
Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon's Postgame Comments
"We turned the pressure up on their guards to make them start their offense a little higher on the court to help slow their ability to get the ball into the low-post, and it actually forced them to speed up the pace, which they didn't want to do. We were able to turn defense into offense from there and we got in a flow where we were able to share the basketball and get good shots. Saint Peter's plays really hard, and I thought we matched their intensity, especially in the second half."
 
"We forced them to turn it over 16 times, which is right around their season average. We were hoping to get them to turn it over a bit more, to be honest, but we were able to capitalize on their turnovers with 21 points. That was really important today, because it's hard to win when you get out-rounded by 12 for the game. We also did a good job sharing the ball with 14 assists and just nine turnovers. Those are some of the things you need to do to be successful, especially when you out-rebounded like we did this afternoon."
 
Game Notes
• Sunday was the 81st all-time meeting between the two Jesuit schools, with Canisius leading the series 46-35.
• The Griffs have beaten the Peacocks three-straight times and six times in the last 10 meetings, dating back to 2014.
• Sunday marked the 33rd time in series history where the final score was decided by five-points or less. Saint Peter's leads that portion of the series 17-16.
• The Griffs are now 8-1 this season in games decided by five-points or less. The eight wins this season in games decided by five points or fewer are the most since the 1983-84 team won 10 games by five-points or less.
• Molson's 21-point effort in the win marks his sixth 20-plus point game this season, and the 12th in his career. Two of those 12 career 20-plus point games have come against Saint Peter's.
• Johnson has scored in double-figures in five straight games, and he's dished out seven-or more assists in five-straight games as well.
• With his eight assists on Sunday, Johnson moves into a tie for fifth-place on the school's career assists list with former Griffs guard Kevin Downey. Both players have 404 career assists.
• Hitchon has now scored in double-figures 11 times this season, with five of those occasions coming in MAAC games.
• Henderson's two steals in the win are a new career-high for the freshman.

Up Next
Canisius will return home for a pair of MAAC games next weekend, starting Friday night when the Griffs host Fairfield at the Koessler Athletic Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., and the contest will be broadcast live on ESPN+. The radio call will be available on WECK-Radio Buffalo, GoGriffs.com and the TuneIn app.

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