Griffs Fall at Manhattan in Season Finale – Earn No. 4 Seed at Next Weekend’s MAAC Tournament

Photo by  Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Jim O’Connor-USA TODAY Sports

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RIVERDALE, N.Y. – Manhattan guard George Beamon scored a game-high 21 points, highlighted by his steal and layup late in the game to give Manhattan a three-point lead, and teammate RaShawn Stores added 15 points and three assists as the host Jaspers defeated Canisius 68-63 Sunday afternoon in the regular-season finale for both teams in the Draddy Gymnasium.

With the loss, the Golden Griffins end the regular season with a 20-11 overall record and a 14-6 mark in MAAC play. Canisius has earned the No. 4 seed in next weekend’s MAAC Championship Tournament in Springfield, Mass., where the Blue and Gold will meet No. 5 seed Siena on Saturday, March 8 in the quarterfinal round. That game will tipoff at 2:30 p.m., and will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and AM-1400 in Buffalo.

Canisius senior Chris Perez led the way offensively for the Griffs with his team-high 13 points. Fellow senior Billy Baron added 10 points and four assists, while freshman Zach Lewisscored eight points, which all came in the second half. Redshirt-sophomore Dominique Raney had eight points off the bench and junior Josiah Heath chipped in six points and two rebounds as the Griffs ended the game by shooting 37.3 percent from the floor, 30 percent from 3-point land and 77.3 percent from the free-throw line.

Canisius trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half and the Blue and Gold went into the locker room down 45-32 after Manhattan shot 60 percent from the field and 55.5 percent from 3-point land in the game’s first 20 minutes. Canisius was able to get back in the game by starting the second half with a 13-3 run over the span of 3:32, with Lewis posting five of those points. The Jaspers pushed their lead back to five points at 50-45, but back-to-back baskets from senior Chris Manhertz and Perez made the score 50-49 with 11:46 left to play. Manhattan was able to push its cushion back to five points at 58-53 with 8:51 left to play, but a 3-pointer from the right wing by Lewis with 7:58 left on the clock got the Griffs within two at 58-56.

Manhattan stretched its lead to six at 62-56 with 5:52 left on the clock, but baskets from Manhertz and senior Jordan Heath and a 3-pointer by Perez in the span of 1:40 knotted the game at 63-63 with 3:17 left to play in regulation time. That trey by Perez would end up being Canisius’ last score of the night. After Manhattan’s Rhamel Brown made a free-throw with2:11 left, Canisius came down the floor looking to take its first lead since the opening minutes of the game, but Beamon was able to pick up a loose ball and race the length of the floor for a layup that gave the Jaspers a 66-63 advantage with 1:22 left to play.

Out of a Canisius timeout, the Griffs came up empty, but went to the other end of the floor and forced Manhattan into a shot clock violation with 27.7 seconds left. The Griffs had two chances to score in the game’s final 20 seconds but again came up empty, and Stores was fouled with 5.1 seconds left. He made both free-throws to seal the win, which improved Manhattan to 22-7 overall and 15-5 in MAAC play. With the victory, Manhattan earns the No. 2 seed in next weekend’s MAAC Tournament.

“I thought we did a great job of defending them and rebounding the ball in the second half, we just didn’t make enough plays to get the lead back,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “I give them credit because they defended us and forced us to make shots, but that game was right there for the taking. This season has been nothing to hang our heads about. We won 20 games again this year and next week we head to the MAAC Tournament where everyone is 0-0.”

Manhertz and Jordan Heath had seven points apiece in the loss for Canisius, which was swept by Manhattan in the regular-season series for the first time since 2011-12. Manhertz had 11 rebounds and two blocked shots for the Griffs while Jordan Heath was credited with seven boards and two blocks. All eight Canisius players that played in the game scored at least four points, but the Griffs turned the ball over 17 times in the loss, which Manhattan turned into 21 points. The Griffs won the rebounding battled for the second-straight game, as the Blue and Gold pulled down 34 rebounds against the Jaspers’ 31.

This will mark the second-straight season where the Griffs have earned a first-round bye in the MAAC Tournament and it will also mark the first time since 1999 where Canisius is a No. 4 seed. The Griffs and Siena have met in the MAAC Tournament on seven previous occasions, with the Saints holding a 5-2 advantage.

Game Notes: This was the 84th all-time meeting between Canisius and Manhattan, and the Jaspers’ lead the all-time series 51-33… The Griffs are just 6-22 all-time on the road against Manhattan… The loss snapped Canisius’ five-game road winning streak in MAAC play, which was a program record… Canisius lost its six MAAC games this season by an average of 5.8 points per game… Baron saw his streak of scoring 20 or more in a game come to an end at seven straight… Baron ended the regular season with 757 points (an average of 24.4 points per game)… The 11 rebounds for Manhertz gives him 762 for his career, which stands as the most rebounds for a Griff in their career since Darren Fenn had 852 boards during his career from 1997-01… Lewis’ two 3-point field goals on Sunday gives him multiple makes from 3-point range 18 times this season… Perez’s 13 points marks the 67th time in his career where he’s scored double figures in a game.

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