Senior Kiefer Douse has picked up his game at the perfect time for the Canisius Golden Griffins.
The 6-foot-3 guard scored 21 points, 10 in the last seven minutes, to lead the Golden Griffins to an 85-77 victory over Rider Friday night in Lawrenceville, N.J.
Douse entered the game averaging 10.7 points per game on the season but has averaged 18.5 a game over the last six.
The win moved Canisius closer to a first-round bye in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament with three games to go in the regular season. The top five teams get a bye into the quarterfinals, and the Griffs stand in fourth place at 10-7. Siena also is 10-7 but the Griffs hold the tie-breaker edge over Siena by virtue of two wins over the Saints. Canisius is a game behind both Iona and St. Peter's (11-6), tied for second place. The Griffs still could catch either. Canisius split with Iona and won its first meeting with St. Peter's. The Peacocks visit Canisius in the regular-season finale on Feb. 26.
Douse converted an alley-oop dunk with 4:25 left then converted two free throws to give the Griffs a 76-71 lead. Rider never got closer than three afterward.
The Griffs made 11 three-pointers and forced 19 turnovers. Canisius also got 18 points from Kassius Robertson, 14 from Jermaine Crumpton, 12 from Phil Valenti and 10 from Martin Dixon-Green.
The Griffs visit last-place Marist at 2 p.m. Sunday.
In Saturday's Big 4 action, the University at Buffalo plays a women-men doubleheader. The UB women open a three-game home stand with a 1 p.m. game against Akron. UB (17-7, 7-6) stand seventh in the Mid-American Conference but still have a chance to move up with a strong finish over the last five games of the regular season. Akron is 9-15 and 2-11.
The UB men play Miami Ohio at 3:30 p.m. The Bulls (14-12, 8-5) have won five straight and currently hold the No. 3 position in the MAC. UB has scored 89.8 points a game over its win streak. The Bulls lead the MAC in rebounding margin, outboarding foes by 4.9 a game. Miami is last in the MAC in rebounding and 11th out of 12 in scoring (70.2 a game). UB lost at Miami, 75-74, on Jan. 24. Miami (10-16, 3-10) has lost five of its last six since the win over the Bulls. UB will wear throwback 1950s uniforms for the game in celebration of its 100th season of basketball.
St. Bonaventure plays a key Atlantic 10 Conference game at powerful Dayton at 2 p.m. (NBC Sports Network). The Bonnies are the A-10's highest-scoring team, averaging 78.6 points a game. Dayton, battling Virginia Commonwealth for first place in the A-10, is the conference's top defensive team, allowing only 64 a game. Dayton (20-5, 11-2) beat the Bonnies, 90-74, on Jan. 3. The Flyers have won five straight and stand 29th in the nation in the latest Ratings Percentage Index. Bona, still in contention for a top-four seed in the A-10, stands 16-9, 8-5.
Niagara's men visit Siena at 8 p.m. in a game that has bigger post-season implications for Siena than the Purple Eagles. Siena (13-15, 10-7) is battling for a top-five finish in the MAAC and a first-round tournament bye. Niagara (9-19, 6-11) stands ninth out of 11 but still has a chance to move up a place or two with three games to go in the regular season. Niagara beat Siena, 71-66, on Jan. 4. Siena, which has won three of its last four, has a big size edge over Niagara. The Saints lead the MAAC in rebounding. Niagara is sixth. The Saints are inside-oriented. They're last in the MAAC in three-pointers made per game (4.6).
The other three Big 4 women's teams also are in action at home.
Siena's women visit Canisius at 2 p.m. The Griffs (9-17, 8-9) stand seventh in the MAAC, a game behind Marist and two behind Siena (11-15, 10-7). Canisius lost at Siena, 67-42, on Jan. 26. It will be the final home game for seniors Emily Weber, Lauren D'Hont and Tamara Miskovic.
Niagara plays host to last-place St. Peter's at 3 p.m. in the Purple Eagles' home finale. Niagara is 7-19, 4-13. St. Peter's is 3-23, 2-15. Niagara lost at St. Peter's, 78-66, on Dec. 30. Tiffany Corselli and Emily Granruth are Niagara's seniors.
St. Bona meets VCU at 1 p.m. in its home finale at the Reilly Center. The Bonnies (9-17, 4-10) will honor seniors Gabby Richmond and Imani Outlaw. VCU is 13-14, 6-8.