Harry Seymour scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half to lead Canisius to a hard-fought, 78-71 victory over Lehigh Friday in the first round of the Pepsi Marist Classic.
The Golden Griffins improved to 3-1 and moved into the final against Brown tonight (8 p.m., Radio 930). A victory would give the Griffs their first tournament title since 1972 and their first ever outside of Buffalo. Brown defeated Marist, 82-79, Friday.
Canisius held a slim lead most of the way against Lehigh (2-4), but had some tense moments down the stretch.
The Griffs took the lead for good, 63-60, on a Seymour three-point shot with 5:40 left. Two Chuck Giscombe free throws, an Ed Book tip-in and a Nixon Dyall free throw gave Canisius a 73-65 lead with 2:39 left.
Lehigh was within 73-69 and had chances to cut the lead three times, but the Canisius defense held and freshman Binky Johnson hit two free throws with 27 seconds left to make it 75-69 and give the Griffs some comfort.
Book added 17 points for the Griffs, while point guard Rod Brown had 11, including three three-pointers in the first half.
Lehigh got 23 points from forward Dozie Mbonu.
"Even though we had a lot of mental errors, I thought we gutted it out," said Griff coach Marty Marbach. "Harry gave us a big lift on a night when a couple of our go-to guys had off nights."
Giscombe had eight points and Nixon Dyall seven for the Griffs.
Lehigh outrebounded the Griffs by 46-37, but Canisius held its opposition to under 40 percent shooting (36 percent) for a fourth straight game. Canisius shot 42 percent from the field.
The Griffs made 25 of 33 free throws and are shooting 78.6 percent from the line for the season. Last year, Canisius shot just 64 percent from the line.
Brown (3-2) defeated Lehigh in its opener, 66-65.