By Paul Gotham
BUFFALO, NY — Siena led in number of timeouts taken. That’s about it.
Isaac Sosa continued his torrid shooting, and Chris Manhertz registered a double-double as the Canisius Golden Griffins (12-7, 5-2) overwhelmed a depleted Siena Saints squad (4-15, 2-6), 76-44 in Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference action at the Koessler Athletic Center, Saturday afternoon.
Sosa led the way with 13 points as the Golden Griffins played a nearly flawless first twenty minutes to take a 42-19 lead into the half.
The senior guard scored seven straight as the Griffs took a double-digit advantage less than 10 minutes into the contest. After taking a rebound and outlet, Billy Baron led Sosa with a diagonal pass for an open jumper from the left corner resulting in Siena’s second timeout of the game with 12:52 remaining in the half.
“It was a great team effort from our players,” said Canisius head coach Jim Baron. “We got good minutes off the bench, and we are going to need that going down the stretch.”
One trip later, Baron and Sosa combined in a two-on-one situation. When Siena’s Evan Hymes tipped Baron’s bounce pass, Sosa recovered for the steal and reverse layup. Sosa followed with a pull-up three, and the Griffs led 21-10.
Canisius put the foot on the accelerator from there.
Jordan Heath nailed a catch-and-shoot trey after the Griffs continue to ping the ball in, around, over and through the Siena zone defense. Manhertz chased down an offensive rebound along the baseline, pivoted and found Alshwan Hymes at the opposite foul-line extended. Without hesitation, Hymes redirected the rock to Jordan Heath for a 24-10 lead.
Canisius doubled up Siena when Jordan Heath followed Billy Baron’s layup attempt with a dunk.
Manhertz scored on consecutive possessions. The 6-6 forward used a baseline drop step and a reverse layup to elude OD Anosike for two. On the next possession, Manhertz corralled one of three offensive boards in the half and finished with a jump hook over Anosike for a 37-16 Canisius bulge.
Sosa capped the stanza with a pull-up three for a 42-19 lead at half.
Canisius stretched the lead to 30 less than four minutes into the second stanza when Jordan Heath finished a pretty transition play with a thunderous dunk. Billy Baron grabbed a defensive rebound and quickly led Washington up the right sideline. Washington wasted no time passed to Sosa on the opposite side floor. Meanwhile, Jordan Heath filled the lane for the jam.
“Our guys really shared the basketball,” Baron commented.
The game was played in stark contrast to the contest eight days ago in the Times Union Center. The Griffs, who looked listless at times in the 57-54 loss, held Evan Hymes to just four points Saturday afternoon with five assists and nine turnovers. The sophomore point guard scored 20 in the Siena victory on its home court.
“You learn from the first time we played against him,” Baron said. “We said we’re going to have to buckle it up against him. We’re going to have to stay in front of him, and make him put it on the floor.”
Hymes deftly used ball screens to create for open jumpers in the win. The Griffs hedged hard on those picks Saturday and limited the opportunities for Hymes to get into the paint with ball.
“We did a much better job of defending,” Baron explained making note of post position, help defense and keeping guys in front. “We did a much better job of defending the inside as well as the guards. That was one of our best defensive efforts with guys understanding what we needed to do.”
Sosa scored a game-high 18 on six-of-11 shooting from the field including four-of-nine from behind the arc.
The double-double was the second of the season for Manhertz who has grabbed double-digit rebounds in five of the last six Canisius contests. The Bronx, New York native came into the game leading the MAAC with 12 boards per game.
Jordan Heath added 11 points, six rebounds, four blocks, three assists and three steals.
Alshwan Hymes went five-of-eight on the perimeter and tallied 11 points off the bench.
Rich Audu led Siena with 11 points.
Canisius committed just four turnovers for the game while forcing the Saints into 20 miscues. The Griffs dished out 18 assists on 32 field goals. Siena had nine assists on 16 field goals.
“First half we only had one turnover,” Baron said. “Which is unbelievable.”
Canisius dominated all aspects of the contest outscoring Siena in the paint (40-16), off turnovers (29-3), second chance opportunities (27-22), fast break points (20-0) and bench contribution (21-9).
The win is the second this week as the Griffs defeated Manhattan. Canisius entered Thursday’s game tied with the Jaspers at 3-3 in the MAAC. After Manhattan’s loss to Niagara also on Saturday afternoon, the Griffs have put distance between themselves and their Riverdale rivals.
“Winning against Manhattan really meant a lot to us,” Baron noted. “We kind carried that enthusiasm and intensity over to this game.”
Siena played the game without Ryan Poole and Ryan Oliver. Poole, the team’s second-leading scorer with 12.7 per game, has now missed four straight games due to complications from the flu. Rakeem Brookins did not return for the second half because of an ailing back.
The margin of victory was the largest for Canisius since the John Beilein-led Griffs trounced Fairfield, 91-45 on February 8, 1997. Siena’s 44 points ties the lowest output scored by opponent all-time at the KAC.
Siena had won 14 of the last 15 meetings between the two schools. Siena now leads the all-time series, 51-38.
Complete article to follow.