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Canisius men's basketball moves into tie for first with win against Saint Peter's

Events around Western New York were canceled Friday night, but the sharp decline in temperature and snowy conditions weren't enough to stop the Canisius and Saint Peter's men's basketball teams from going to battle at the Koessler Athletic Center. Saint Peter's shooting turned out to be as icy as the roads.

Canisius held the Peacocks to 38 percent from the field and 26 percent from 3-point range to earn a 70-58 victory in the first outing of a two-game weekend.

The Golden Griffins shot 52 percent, doing just enough to overcome the strongest defensive scoring team in the conference.

"It was a total team effort," Canisius coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "When we moved the ball patiently, we got shots. ... When we get used to what we do well and just trust it, we can get better."

Takal Molson continued his strong performance in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, scoring 23 points for Canisius. He's scored 20 or more points in three of the Griffs' five conference games, making it easy to forget he's a freshman.

"I really don't think about me being a freshman," Molson said. "I just take it as doing whatever I can so we can win. I think grade doesn't really matter at a collegiate level."

Jermaine Crumpton had 14 points, with 10 coming in the second half. Selvedin Planincic scored 11 and hit both his attempts from 3-point range.

Canisius, winners of five straight before a loss to Siena Sunday, moves into a tie for first place in the MAAC with Iona and Rider at 4-1 in conference play.

"It's early in the conference schedule, but we've got to find ways to consistently do the things that we practice," Witherspoon said. "Some of this is going to be a challenge of mental endurance."

The Peacocks were effective offensively early in the game, getting out to a 10-6 lead thanks to five baskets from the paint. The Golden Griffins eventually clamped down, holding Saint Peter's scoreless for over four minutes in an 0 for 7 stretch.

"We just tried to really throw a collective effort of people at them," Witherspoon said.

The Golden Griffins took their first lead of the game with 10:05 remaining in the first half, as Jalanni White hit the second of two free throws to make it 14-13.

Canisius went into the half with a 38-29 advantage after hitting five 3-point shots in the final 5:06 of the first frame. The Griffs shot 57 percent from the field and hit six of its 16 3-point attempts in the first.

Crumpton took over at the start of the second. The senior forward scored Canisius' first four baskets following the break, a big factor in Canisius halting the Peacocks from cutting the lead under six.

"We talked about it in practice, finding my niche down low," Crumpton said. "I know that they switch a guard on me and that's an advantage for us. I just exploited that mismatch."

Neither team shot well in the second, but Canisius' halftime lead gave the Griffs a cushion. Monmouth's Nick Griffin hit a three with just over four minutes remaining to cut the Canisius lead to 59-52, but a Planincic layup and Crumpton dunk all but sealed a Canisius win.

With the victory, Canisius holds a 44-35 lead in the all-time series with Saint Peter's and a 33-29 lead since the Peacocks joined the MAAC.

The Golden Griffins play a second straight home game Sunday, welcoming Monmouth to the KAC. The Hawks lost at Niagara Friday night, 78-77. Saint Peter's travels north to face Niagara on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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