Senior Jalen Pickett led all scorers with 19 including his career 1,000th point, and the Aquinas Li’l Irish won their third straight with a 54-43 victory over the Canisius Crusaders (VI) in non-league action Tuesday night at the Wegman-Napier Center.
Pickett connected on a 7 of 13 shots from the floor including four of five behind the arc. The 6-foot-3 guard reached the career milestone with a second-half trey late in the shot clock.
“The shot clock was winding down,” Pickett explained. “It was under five seconds. I called for a screen. They came out. It looked like they were doubling. I stepped through it and just shot it up for three, and it went in.
“It means a lot to me. I’ve worked my way up through the program from modified then playing varsity.”
Pickett grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, and the Li’l Irish finished with a 33-28 advantage on the boards including 11 offensive caroms which they converted into a 7-5 advantage in second-chance points.
Luke Putnam added 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting including three of five from long range.
Jason Hawkes scored nine points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out six assists.
Eight different Li’l Irish tallied with Eric Carter getting five and Ruben Torres three. Sincere Alston, Graycen Carter and Anthony Flegler scored two apiece.
Aquinas forced 17 turnovers and outscored the Crusaders 23-5 in points off turnovers.
AQ had a 22-12 advantage in the paint. The Li’l Irish handed out 13 assists on 20 made field goals.
Aquinas led 16-10 after the first and 33-14 at half.
“It was a very good team win,” Pickett said. “Everyone contributed. It’s been two or three games where we’ve really guarded well. We kept executing and getting good shots on offense. We have people playing with a lot more confidence. Everyone is keying in on one goal now. We’re really pushing toward sectionals. We’re really getting in a groove right now.”
Ryan Bradley led Canisius with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Colby Moultrie scored 13. Canisius fell to 14-8 on the season.
Aquinas improved to 14-5 with the win. The Li’l Irish close the regular season on Thursday when the host the McQuaid Jesuit Knights.