By Paul Casey Gotham
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Alshwan Hymes made it look like child’s play.
The sophomore must have mistaken the hardwood of the Koessler Athletic Center (KAC) for the asphalt on the playgrounds and family driveway at and near his home in DeWitt, New York. He treated the Canisius faithful to a record-setting shooting display that seemed more like a game of around-the-world than part of a college basketball contest. From the right or left, the corner, foul-line extended or top of the key, it didn’t matter to Hymes.
When it was all done, Hymes set a new school record with nine 3-pointers leading to a career-high 28 points as the Canisius Golden Griffins exorcised the Northwestern State Demons 85-52 in non-conference action Wednesday night.
Hymes connected four times from behind the arc as the Griffs finished the first half on a 29-10 run.
“I know how good of a team we can be,” Hymes said. “It wasn’t as much me hitting shots as it was just us playing well. Tonight we just proved we are taking steps in the right direction.”
Trailing 21-12, the Griffs clawed back into the game. Gaby Belardo hit a pull-up jumper from the right side of the lane. The defense created a turnover. Elton Frazier battled under the boards and converted his second putback attempt before Hymes connected with two trifecta. Then Robert Goldsberry knocked down a pair of free throws. The Griffs’ 1-2-2 press caused another turnover. Reggie Groves led Belardo into the open for a lay up. A Frazier dunk in transition was sandwiched by two more three balls from Hymes. Belardo capped the run when Tomas Vasquez-Simmons swatted a shot to near mid-court leading his teammate for the easy deuce.
“Probably the most important thing that we talked about after the game was that we were down 21-12, and we came into the huddle and felt really good about ourselves because we were executing offensively,” Coach Tom Parrotta said. “We got a lot of chippies around the hoop, and they just didn’t stay down. That was a turning point. The one thing that they didn’t do was hang their heads because they missed those chippies. It’s a credit to them for fighting through that and getting on a roll.”
Despite leading at the half 41-31, Canisius shot just 35 percent from the field in comparison to 47 percent for the Demons.
“The defensive effort was fantastic,” Parrotta continued. “Early on, the offensive rebounding was a huge disparity. We kept the ball alive, and got us extra possessions.”
The Griffs caused 15 turnovers in the first half and outrebounded the Demons 25-13 including 15 offensive rebounds before the break.
“It’s really contagious,” Parrotta added. “We’ve talked about the human nature of things. If you’re not making shots, everything seems to suffer. I thought they took a great step in a positive direction tonight.”
Canisius never looked back after halftime.
Greg Logins opened the second stanza with a 3 from the right corner. A pair of hustle plays by Goldsberry made it 49-35. First the 6′ guard slipped along the baseline and batted a rebound away from the Demons. Frazier corraled the loose ball at the foul line and fed Goldsberry in the corner for an open three. On the next trip down the floor, a diving Goldsberry swiped the ball from an opponent to Logins who finished with the play with a lay up.
Hymes quickly regained his stroke after missing his first two attempts of the second half. He grabbed a defensive rebound and fed Belardo on the right side of the floor who entered the ball into the post. A scramble ensued and Frazier grabbed the loose ball and relocated it to Belardo now in the left corner. With the ball in flight to his teammate, Hymes could already be heard calling for “one more.” Belardo obliged, and Hymes stuck another.
Hymes was not the only Griffin to etch his name in the record book. Julius Coles finished with 15 points on the night including his 1,000th in a blue and gold. Coles took a hand-off from Vasquez-Simmons on the left side of the floor, drove the lane and finished with a reverse lay-up for two points and the plateau. Coles is the 31st Griffin to reach 1,000 including Logins who turned the trick earlier this season.
Frazier finished with 14 points. Logins grabbed a game-high nine boards. Goldsberry, Groves and Vasquez-Simmons each had five assists.
The previous school record for 3-pointers in a game was seven held by five different Griffs. Pavel Malera was the most recent hitting seven treys on December 15, 2007.
After losing four of five including 86-74 10 days ago at Northwestern State, the win was the second in a row for the Griffs who improve to 6-6 on the campaign.
“Sometimes, adversity makes you take a close look at yourself,” Parrotta noted when talking about his team’s transformation since a 76-58 loss to St. Francis of New York. “We learned a lot. I can point back to that game clearly. We got up early, and a kid made four 3s on us, and it deflated us. I’m glad it happened when it did because it allowed us to regroup.”
Northwestern State falls to 8-5. Will Pratt led the Demons with 15. Devon Baker added 10. Baker scored 22 the first time the two teams met in Natchioches, Louisiana.
The Griffs return to Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference play at St. Peter’s on Monday, January 3rd. Siena comes to the KAC on Friday, January 7th for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
Canisius made national news when Frank Turner earned his master’s degree after four years of work at the Buffalo campus. Current seniors, Julius Coles, Frazier, Goldsberry, Logins and Vazquez-Simmons all completed their four-year degrees last spring. The five seniors are in line to get their master’s by the end of the next semester.