Canisius College endured a rough outside shooting night but played good enough defense to defeat Niagara University, 65-60, Thursday night.
The Griffs made only 3 of 20 three-point shots. But Canisius held all but one of Niagara’s offensive threats in check.
Niagara got 27 points from junior guard Emile Blackman. But Niagara’s leading scorer, Matt Scott, managed just five points.
Canisius built a 45-27 lead early in the second half before its offense began to sputter. Niagara got within three points on three occasions in the final three minutes but came no closer.
Canisius got 14 points from both junior forward Phil Valenti and senior guard Malcolm McMillan.
Rematch: The two teams probably are going to meet again Thursday in Albany in the first round of the MAAC tournament. Canisius stands seventh and Niagara 10th in the MAAC with one game to go in the regular season. Barring a string of upsets over the next three days, those seeds will hold and the two rivals will have a third meeting this season.
Records: Canisius improved to 13-17 overall and 8-11 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Niagara lost for the seventh time in the last eight games and fell to 7-23 and 5-14.
Rough start: Niagara scored on just one of its first 11 possessions and fell behind, 13-2, just five minutes into the game.
Top Eagle: Blackman single-handedly kept Niagara from getting blown out in the first half. Blackman scored 17 first-half points. He had three three-pointers and two emphatic slam dunks. The first came off a full-court pass from Justin Satchell and pulled Niagara within 24-21. The second was an over-the-rim rebound jam that pulled Niagara within 28-25. Canisius held a 31-25 lead at intermission.
Series: Canisius has won six of the last seven against Niagara, including a 70-61 win on Jan. 22. Niagara leads the series, 101-79. The series started in the 1905-06 season.
Up next: Canisius closes the regular season at Iona Saturday. The Griffs lost to Iona four weeks ago, 84-66. Iona stands second in the MAAC. Niagara closes Sunday at first-place Monmouth.