For one team, it was a collective release, a sign that better things were to come. For another, it was a continuation of rebuilding woes leaving more questions than answers.
Though St. Bonaventure led by as many as 11 points in the first half, it was the Canisius men's basketball team that ended its losing skid, coming back and holding on for a 67-61 win in front of 9,555 in HSBC Arena on Saturday night.
For the Golden Griffins (1-1), it broke a four-game losing streak dating back to last season.
For the Bonnies, it marks the first time the program has started the year 0-3 since the 1994-95 season.
"For a team that is struggling to try and find itself, I told them it was better that we went through this," Canisius head coach Mike MacDonald said. "We're trying to figure out what to do and how to win and a way to win and I thought we did that. It was good to beat a team where we didn't splinter apart, where we didn't come crashing down. We may have bent but we didn't break."
In the first half, the Bonnies built an 11-point lead, 21-10, thanks in large part to nine points from Patrick Lottin and seven rebounds from Ahmad Smith. The Griffs had a surge powered by Kevin Downey, who converted two Bona turnovers into five points -- one on a fast-break jumper in the lane and the other on a three-pointer.
"I was really impressed when we were down 11 in the first half and I didn't think we were ever going to score, that we were able to rally and come back," MacDonald said. "We did a lot of that with Kevin Downey. Kevin got us to the point where we could get it going."
The Bonnies clung to a 29-27 halftime lead, but that wouldn't last for long. The Griffs had four straight three-point plays -- a three-point play from Downey, a three-pointer from Dewitt Doss, a three-point play from Rigoberto Sargeant and a three-point play off a steal by Doss -- to take a 39-34 lead.
The Griffs enjoyed a double-digit lead for much of the second half, though the Bonnies made themselves pesky. While the Griffs missed some late shots and many late free throws, the Bonnies hit three three-pointers in the final 1:08. A three-point play from Lottin made it a 66-61 game with 21 seconds left, but the Bonnies could not get another bucket to force the issue further.
"It's a 40-minute basketball game," said Bona coach Anthony Solomon. "You have to play for 40 minutes. We started off better (Saturday) and then we hit a drought in the second half. We gave up too many easy baskets, but when it's all said and done it's a 40-minute game.
"I thought the way we started, we had some good momentum. I thought we executed well but it's a long game and a lot of things happened . . . in those 40 minutes. We came out of character by settling for too many jump shots. We're at our best when we're catching passes and moving the ball and trusting each other. We're not a one- or two-pass team."
It was a sloppy shooting night all around. The Bonnies managed to shoot just 37 percent while hitting 8 of 25 three-point attempts. Canisius finished the game shooting 37 percent, but was buoyed by a solid second half. The Griffs hit 10 of their 22 shots after halftime.
Lottin finished with a game-high 21 points, shooting 7 for 17 and 3 for 10 from three-point range, while Wade Dunston added 10 points and Smith led all Bona rebounders with 10.
For the Griffs, Doss netted 15 points while Downey added 13 with eight rebounds. Chuck Harris added 12 points with Darnell Wilson barely missing a double-double with 11 rebounds and nine points.
While St. Bonaventure continues to hold the all-time series lead, 93-60, the Griffs have a 10-4 edge in the last 14 meetings.