Canisius was outscored by 24 points at the free-throw line and lost to Air Force, 93-79, Tuesday night at Clune Arena on the academy campus in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Golden Griffins (0-2) faced an uphill battle all the way. Their last lead was 12-11 and they trailed, 43-38, at halftime. Air Force (2-0) converted 38 of its 41 foul shots while Canisius shot well, too, at the line but had only 16 attempts, making 14.
The Griffs had to deal with a balanced Air Force attack which put all five starters in double figures led by LaVelle Scottie's 18 points.
A 12-2 run by the Falcons after Canisius had closed to 63-58 midway through the second half gave them some breathing room. Canisius closed to 82-76 going into the last two minutes, but a three-point play by Trevor Lyons and two more free throws by the Air Force guard with 1:33 to go fended them off. Air Force made nine straight free throws in the last 1:50 to finish it off.
Jermaine Crumpton led Canisius with 20 points. Isaiah Reese had 14 and Malik Johnson 10.
The Griffs made 27 of 63 shots, including 11 of 35 from three-point range. Air Force was 23 of 50 from the floor and 9 of 21 from outside the arc. Turnovers were even at 14 apiece while AFA had a slight rebound advantage, 34-31.
The game was part of the Men Against Breast Cancer Challenge which will continued at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. on Thanksgiving Weekend when Canisius will play three games in three days. Before then, however, coach Reggie Witherspoon's team has a home game on Saturday against Youngstown State and a game at Tennessee State next Tuesday.
Tonight's Big 4 games
The University at Buffalo will be home and Niagara on the road in games on tonight's Big 4 men's college schedule while St. Bonaventure plays at Canisius in a rivalry women's game.
Jacksonville State, located in Alabama and not to be confused with Jacksonville University in Florida, will come to Alumni Arena tonight to face UB (Radio 1520, 7 p.m.). The visiting Gamecocks are the defending tournament champions of the Ohio Valley Conference. They went 20-15 under first-year coach Ray Harper, the most successful season in school history.
UB is looking to get off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2011-12. The Bulls pulled out an 80-75 home victory over Canisius on Saturday led by a career-high 26 points from Nick Perkins. Jacksonville State is 2-0. The Gamecocks posted an impressive 94-61 victory at Richmond on Monday afternoon.
Jacksonville State features a 7-foot center from Lithuania in Norbertas Giga, who is averaging 11.0 points per game, and forward Christian Cunningham is averaging a double-double, 11.0 points and 10. rebounds.
The last time Niagara met the University of Minnesota in men's basketball the Golden Gophers had two future big league coaches on their roster. The late Flip Saunders, who was head coach of the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves before his death in 2015, was a starter for the Golden Gophers. Football quarterback Tony Dungy, who went on to become a coach in the National Football Leaguer was on the roster as a sophomore.
Frank Layden was still the Niagara coach and the Purple Eagles defeated Minnesota, 78-65, at the Niagara Falls Convention Center in December of the 1973-74 season. Minnesota was coached by Bill Musselman, who went on to coach in the NBA, to0. It was the second time Niagara and Minnesota played. In 1971, Niagara lost to the Golden Gophers, 92-87, at historic Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
The Minnesota team that Niagara will face tonight in Minneapolis (Radio 550, 8 p.m.) is ranked 14th in the most recent Associated Press poll. The Gophers, coached by Richard Pitino, has all five starters back from the team that earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament last season. Two of those players, guards Nate Mason and Amir Coffey, were preseason selections for the 2017-18 All-Big 10 team. Mason was a first team All-Big 10 last season. Forward Reggie Lynch was Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year last season.
Minnesota is 2-0 with wins over USC Upstate and Providence.
Niagara won at St. Bonaventure, 77-75, in its opener, the first win in an opener since 2012 against Central Connecticut State.
The Canisius women (0-1) will be looking for their first victory. Bona is 1-1 after an opening victory over Niagara at home and a 70-62 loss at Siena on Sunday. Canisius upset the Bonnies, 74-57, at the Reilly Center last season, perhaps the highlight of a 10-21 season for the Griffs.