Courtesy of GoGriffs.com
YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO. — Trailing by 22 points with 18:17 left in regulation time, the Canisius men’s basketball team got back into the game with a 20-0 run and eventually defeated Youngstown State 84-82 in overtime Saturday night in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament in Youngstown, Ohio. The win allows the Golden Griffins to advance to the CIT quarterfinal, where the Blue and Gold will host Evansville in the Koessler Athletic Center on Tuesday, March 26, with tipoff set for 7 p.m.
The win improved Canisius to 20-13 on the year, marking the seventh 20-win campaign in program history and the first since 2000-01. The Penguins see their season come to an end with an 18-16 overall record.
Canisius junior Billy Baron scored a game-high 30 points, with 26 of those coming in the second half and overtime. Senior Alshwan Hymes scored a season-high 19 points off the bench as the Griffs outscored Youngstown State 56-37 in the final 25 minutes of game action. All nine Canisius players scored in the win, with senior Harold Washington posting nine points and six rebounds and junior Jordan Heath adding eight points and six boards in the winning effort.
“I kept telling the guys to stay focused and keep playing hard,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “To their credit, our guys played to win tonight. Everyone stepped up and made shots and our bench was key to this win. Guys like Alshwan [Hymes] and Reggie [Groves] gave us great minutes and energy off the bench and Billy [Baron] was really good after halftime. This is a great road win for us. No one thought we could win 20 games, but our guys believed we could and we have reached that mark.”
Youngstown State took a 53-31 lead with 18:17 left in the second half after Blake Allen hit a 3-pointer for three of his team-high 27 points. From there, the Griffs mounted their charge back, as the Blue and Gold outscored the Penguins 20-0 over the span of 6:48. Junior Chris Manhertz got the run started with a jumper in the paint and Baron would go on to score eight of the team’s 20 points in the run, which was capped by a 3-pointer from Hymes with 11:23 left on the clock to make the score 53-51. Youngstown State would fight back and take a seven-point hold with 5:01 left on the clock after Penguin forward Damian Eargle hit a pair of free-throws to make the score 69-62 in favor of the home team.
Canisius pushed back, and a lay-up by Hymes and a pair of made free-throws from Baron made the score 69-66 in favor of Youngstown State with 4:15 left in the second half. Baron and Youngstwon State junior Kendrick Perry battled back-and-forth in the final 3:27 of regulation time and Kendrick’s lay-up with 1:27 left on the clock put the Penguins up 73-70, Baron answered the bell one more time and nailed a deep 3-point field goal from the top of the key with 52 seconds left to knot the score at 73-73. Youngstown State missed a 3-pointer at its end of the court and the Griffs had the ball for the final 34 seconds but the team couldn’t get off a quality shot and the game went to overtime.
Perry scored the first five points of overtime for Youngstown State as the Penguins took a 78-75 lead with 3:47 left in the extra session. Canisius knotted the game at 78-78 on a 3-pointer from Hymes and the Griffs took their first lead of the night when Jordan Heath made one-of-two free-throws with 2:27 left on the clock to give Canisius a 79-78 lead. Perry hit a jumper from just outside the paint to give the Penguins their final lead of the night at 80-79, but Manhertz knotted the game back up at 80-80 with a free-throw with 1:17 left on the clock. Baron hit a pair of charity tosses to give Canisius an 82-80 lead with 44 ticks left on the clock, but the Penguins would not go away quietly, as Eargle drained a jumper 16 seconds later to tie the score at 82-82 with 28 seconds left. With the shot clock turned off, Baron pulled up from 3-point land with 2.1 seconds left and was fouled in the act of shooting, sending the team’s best free-throw shooter to the line for three attempts. The junior guard hit two-of-three and Youngstown State’s last-second toss from three-quarters court smacked off the side of the backboard and the Griffs advanced to the CIT quarterfinal round.
Youngstown State came out of the gate on fire and led Canisius 45-28 at the half after the team shot 51.4 percent from the floor and nailed nine 3-pointers in the game’s first 20 minutes. Allen scored 27 points in the loss for Youngstown State, while Perry added 20 points in the losing effort. Eargle had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Penguins and fellow forward Kamren Belin posted 14 points and 11 rebounds as well, but the Penguins ended up turning the ball over 15 times in the game and got just one point from a player off the bench.
Canisius shot 37.3 percent from the floor and 32.3 percent from long range in the win, but the team went 12-for-17 in the game’s final 25 minutes from the free-throw line to help seal the win. Sophomore Josiah Heath had nine rebounds off the bench for Canisius, which ended the game with a 43-41 advantage on the glass.
Game Notes: This was the fourth all-time meeting between Canisius and Youngstown State, and the Griffs are now 4-0 in the series… The win was the program’s 1,200th all-time victory, going back to 1903-04… This was Canisius’ second overtime postseason game in school history, where the team is now 2-0… This is the ninth 20-win season for head coach Jim Baron… Billy Baron has now scored 30 points or more in three different games this year… The five 3-point field goals for Hymes is a season high for the senior… Manhertz was credited with a career-high four assists for the Griffs… Josiah Heath was forced to leave the game midway through the second half to get six stitches in his chin.