Just when it looks as if the Canisius women's basketball team is gaining momentum, it sets itself back.
Poor shooting and spotty defensive rebounding did in the Golden Griffins on Tuesday night in an 80-77 loss to Northeastern in front of 536 in the Koessler Center. The defeat ended Canisius' three-game winning streak.
The Griffs (5-4) shot just 35 percent from the field and, though they held the overall advantage in rebounding (46-43), gave up too many key offensive rebounds, particularly late in the game.
"I thought we were unable to defend them the way we wanted to," Canisius coach Terry Zeh said. "All night long, we didn't have the same defensive pop that we had the last couple of games. I don't know what the reason is. We allowed them to do what they wanted offensively."
The margin between the teams was in single digits the entire way. Northeastern took its final lead, 57-55, with 8:19 left. Freshman Ashlee Feldman hit a string of three three-pointers over the final eight minutes to help the Huskies stay in front. The Griffs kept themselves in it, shooting 40 percent in the second half. A putback by Laura Granzo pulled the Griffs to within three, 78-75, with 1:51 left.
Then Canisius' lack of rebounding really began to take its toll. A missed three-pointer by the Huskies was rebounded by Feldman and another missed jumper rolled around the floor and off a Canisius player, giving the Huskies yet another 30-second shot clock. Though Northeastern did not score on the possession, it successfully ran the game clock down to less than a minute, putting more pressure on Canisius.
Megan Lyte hit a layup with 12 seconds left to cut the score to 78-77, but Shaleyse Smallwood of the Huskies hit both her free throws with 10 seconds left. A three-point try by Cheri Wittlieb of Canisius hit off the right side as time expired.
While the defense struggled for the Griffs, the offense never quite got in its groove. Though they had 25 offensive rebounds -- because they shot so poorly -- and earned 25 second-chance points, they missed many easy layups and bumbled some plays in the low post.
"With a really athletic team like they are, when they're jumping around all over the place, it gets in your head," said Lyte, who had 18 points on a 4-of-14 night from the field. "We were shooting too quickly and not taking our time. Near the end we started to calm ourselves to make those easy shots."
Northeastern (4-4) earned a split on its Western New York trip after losing to the University at Buffalo on Sunday.
"I think they knew that they didn't come to play on Sunday and we did some things that purely focused on ourselves, our work ethic and our pride," Huskies coach Willette White said. "We got back to some basics and that showed tonight."
The Griffs are 1-3 at home, and life doesn't get easier when they travel to Columbus to play at No. 4 Ohio State on Thursday. The team returns to the Koessler Center on Jan. 5 to host Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rival Siena.