Canisius survived a closing stretch of more than six minutes without a field goal, but was able to hold off Siena at the free-throw line for an 80-73 victory over the Saints Saturday night at the Times-Union Center in Albany and a sweep of their regular-season series.
The win only the second in the last six games for the Golden Griffins (14-10, 7-6 MAAC) kept them in the first division of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings with seven regular season games left on the schedule.
The Griffs got a huge performance from senior forward Phil Valenti, who had 24 points and 10 rebounds. Valenti made all four of his free throws in the final minute to frustrate a Siena comeback. Canisius led 47-32 at the half and by as many as 17 points (49-32), but it wasn't going to be that easy.
Canisius had a 74-62 advantage after a three-point basket by Kassius Robertson with 6:15 to play, but that was the Griffs' last field goal of the game. Led by Javion Ogunyemi and Marquis Wright, Siena reeled off eight points in a row to get back in it. Six of the points came on traditional three-point plays by Ogunyemi and Wright and a layup by Wright, who had 28 points. Ogunyemi finished with 20.
A pair of free throws by Jermaine Crumpton with 1:01 left halted the Siena run. Then Valenti rebounded a Siena miss and was fouled with 46 seconds left. He made both to built the lead to 78-71. Crumpton missed a pair of foulr shots with 27 seconds left, but Siena could not take advantage. Valenti made two more free throws with 14 seconds left to end it.
More than half of Canisius' victories have come on the road where they are 8-7, 3-4 in the MAAC.
Besides Valenti, four other Griffs scored in double-figures. Robertson and Kiefer Douse had 13 each, while Crumpton and Isaiah Reese had 10 each. Malik Johnson did not score but had seven assists.
Life on the road wasn't so good for Niagara, however. The Purple Eagles (8-17, 5-9 MAAC) fell behind by as many as 28 in the first half (44-16) and lost to Quinnipiac, 85-78, in Hamden, Conn. As they usually do, the Purple Eagles made a spirited comeback and had the huge deficit down to six points (81-75) with 2:25 left after pair of free throws by Kahlil Dukes. The Bobcats were able to hang on, however. A three-point play by Peter Kiss with 1:58 left, the last Quinnipiac basket, fended off the Purple Eagles and free-throws did the rest.
Dukes, returning to his home state, scored 29 points for Niagara. Matt Scott had 20 while senior forward Maurice Taylor Jr. collected 12 rebounds.C
Chaise Daniels had 24 points and freshman Kiss 23 for Quinnipiac (9-14, 6-7 MAAC).