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Extra Points: 5-foot-9 'Rim Protector' puts charge into Canisius defense

Extra Points from Canisius’ 89-83 victory over Iona Tuesday night at the Koessler Athletic Center.

CHARGE! Canisius is a small team. How do you try to make up for the fact you don’t get many blocked shots? Take charges near the basket. Junior Jermaine Crumpton leads the Griffs with 20 chargest taken this season. Two charges in the final three minutes were critical to the Griffs’ victory.

The first was by 5-9, 160-pound guard Chris Atkinson, who let himself get run over by 6-8, 235-pound Jordan Washington in the lane with 2:40 left.

Atkinson had just made a turnover on the offensive end. He had Kiefer Douse open on a back-side alley-oop pass for a would-be dunk but overthrew it.

Atkinson on the play: “If I turn the ball over in practice, I always get deflated. I’m beating myself up. But when I turned the ball over then, I kept my composure and stayed poised, turned around and got the charge.”

Griff coach Reggie Witherspoon on the play: “I thought it was awesome. I get fired up when a guy takes a charge because he’s sacrificing his body, putting his body on the line. We talk about taking charges all the time. You gotta anticipate it. You can’t think you’re going to do it at the last second. You’ve got to anticipate that it’s coming and be ready for it. It was thrilling to see him take that. When he does it the message is sent to everybody else, you’ve got to put your body on the line. If you do that it has a tremendous boost to the team.”

After Jermaine Crumpton hit a corner three to put Canisius ahead, 86-83, Douse took a charge from Iona guard Jon Severe with 1:04 left.

It was Douse’s 11th charge take on the season, second to Crumpton.

IONA TURNOVERS: The Griffs shut out Iona on the Gaels’ final six possessions over the final 3:00, which included four turnovers.

Said Iona coach Tim Cluess: “We turned the ball over way too much late in the game. That was the difference. We had opportunities and had bad possessions, and they made the most of their possessions. . . . I don’t think we did a good job looking inside well enough. I think there were areas of their defense we needed to expose and we didn’t do a good job of that. And we also had our guys get in foul trouble way too quickly, then it hurts us.”

Even though the Griffs gave up 83 points, they played perimeter defense with more energy. Iona is not a good matchup for the Griffs. The Gaels are longer and more athletic. But the Griffs' guard defended Iona's guards all game 35 feet from the basket to make the Gaels' offense work harder.

GRIFF THREES: Iona did a pretty good job denying clean looks to Canisius’ best shooter, Kassius Robertson. He was 3 of 5 on three pointers and scored 11 points. The rest of the Griffs were 13 of 23 behind the arc.

Said Cluess: “If we were going to get beat, we wanted to get beat by some of their other players, but not Crumpton on that three. That shouldn’t have happened. But we wanted to have some of their lesser shooters to date beat us. And they made ‘em so credit to them. You gotta give something up, and credit to them, they made the shots.”

Witherspoon credited Robertson with not forcing shots.

“Kassius, I think the threes he got were pretty good shots,” the coach said. “The important thing was the forced ones he didn’t take. After awhile when you take a guy off of your opponent’s rotation and he has to go out there . . . on Kassius, if you say you can’t be in the rotation because that guy’s a good shooter, then we’re going to end up with another better shot.”

Unlike the Niagara loss, in which the Griffs jacked up threes early in the shot clock, this time they made Iona play defense for much of the 30 second possession.

“This is a mentality we have to arrive at,” Witherspoon said. “When the three is not there right away, that we don’t panic. We have enough guys who can hit that shot. We have other things we can get to. That was particularly important in this game. Having long possessions is not bad against this team because they’re so good at going up and down and getting into a track meet.”

BENCH MATCHUP: Atkinson played 20 minutes, his longest action of the season. Senior Martin Dixon-Green played 13 minutes, tying his longest action of the year. It will be interesting to see how much Witherspoon uses the bench going forward. Canisius ranked 302nd in the nation (out of 351) in bench percentage entering the game.

More Witherspoon: “This was a matchup game. They play four guards. Yes, I wanted to get these guys some burn. But also when you’re playing against a team that plays the whole game four guards, you have to play more guards. Otherwise you’re going to wear these two guys out (Phil Valenti and Crumpton). We wanted to have Phil and Crump available to us the whole game. We didn’t want to have them playing under the influence of fouls or fatigue. That’s why it was so important to get the kind of input and energy we got from Chris and Isaiah Reese and Martin Dixon-Green.”

WIN TOTAL: The Griffs (9-7) suprassed last year’s MAAC win total (8-12) with four games to go.

LOOKING AHEAD: Comparing MAAC schedules:

ST. PETER’S (11-6): vs. Fairfield (8-7), at Niagara (6-10), at Canisius (9-7).

CANISIUS (9-7): at Rider (7-9), at Marist (3-13), vs. Fairfield (8-7) vs. St. Peter’s (11-6).

SIENA (9-7): vs. Manhattan (4-12), vs. Niagara (6-10), at Monmouth (14-2), vs. Marist (3-13).

FAIRFIELD (8-7): at Quinnipiac (7-9), at St. Peter’s (11-6), vs. Monmouth (14-2), at Canisius (9-7), at Niagara (6-10).

Good luck trying to forecast these games.

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