Canisius College defeated former North Atlantic Conference rival Vermont, 67-64, Tuesday night to win back-to-back games for the first time this season and end an 11-game road losing streak that dated to last year's finale.
The Griffs (4-12) won for the eighth straight time in Patrick Gymnasium and now lead the series against the Catamounts, 15-1.
And to show their new-found grit, the Griffs didn't fold down the stretch like they have in five previous losses where they led at halftime, yet were blown out in the second half.
And they did it without a key starter, 6-foot-11 center Ed Book, a McKinley graduate who suffered a groin injury in Saturday's win over Loyola of Baltimore.
Coach Marty Marbach pinpointed the difference between the new edition of the Griffs and the team that lost five games after leading at halftime.
"I started yelling at Gregg Smith (who didn't get a point in the first half) that he was tentative and wasn't driving. I told him to seize the opportunity when it was available," said Marbach.
"And without Ed Book we really came together and did the job," added Marbach.
It was Smith's seven straight points, including a fast-break basket on a pass from Rodney Brown, that forged a 60-60 tie for the Griffs with 4:45 remaining.
Nixon Dyall's inside layup put Canisius ahead but Matt Johnson's running jumper from the side tied it again at 62. The Griffs then scored five straight points, four by Chuck Giscombe.
Vermont (7-9) did have a chance to tie the game after former Hutch-Tech star Kevin Roberson scored with 17 seconds left to make it 67-64, but Johnson's game-tying three-point shot just before the buzzer was blocked by Giscombe.
Marbach had praise for reserves Mike O'Sullivan and Harry Seymour, each of whom saw more playing time than they had in any previous game. O'Sullivan, who played 23 minutes starting for Book, scored five points and grabbed six rebounds. Seymour, who had 17 minutes of playing time, added seven points but more importantly had nine rebounds.