Canisius was seconds away from becoming the first team to lose to the only winless team in Division I. But Chuck Harris didn't let that happen.
The Golden Griffins' senior and best three-point shooter forced overtime with his seventh three-pointer of the game, tying a school record. That gigantic shot gave Canisius one more chance to bury the Gaels -- which the Griffs did in overtime.
Canisius limited the defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions to just one field goal in OT and escaped the Koessler Center with a 72-65 win Thursday night before 771.
Harris matched his career high with 27 points, and his biggest contribution was the trey that enabled Canisius to win a sloppy game against a team that's played more than its share of horrible games during a nightmarish season that's captured the nation's attention for all of the wrong reasons.
Canisius avoided becoming the brunt of national jokes by not becoming that first team to lose to the Gaels this season. And the Griffs can thank Harris for that. The 6-foot-3 guard came off the bench for the second game in row after missing four with a knee injury. He didn't return to the bench once he got in, playing a team-high 41 minutes.
"We know they're a good team and we couldn't take them lightly," said Harris, who tied Craig Wise's single-game mark for threes and set a Canisius single-game record with 15 attempted three-point shots. "They've had a lot of close games this year. They're rebuilding, facing a little adversity. You don't really want to focus on not being that team [to lose to Iona for the first time]."
Added Griffins coach Tom Parrotta: "That's a talented bunch. I'm surprised they haven't won [at least] one game."
Iona (0-17, 0-7) has lost 18 in a row dating to last March's NCAA Tournament loss to LSU. This is the second straight overtime defeat for the Gaels.
The Gaels did just enough to let victory slip away. Iona shot a dismal 8 for 20 from the foul line to negate a 49.1 shooting performance from the floor. Going 1 for 6 from the floor in OT also didn't help.
Iona made 12 of 21 shots in the first half to take a 31-29 lead into halftime. The Gaels made 50 percent of their shots in the second half and rallied from deficits of 41-33 and 57-49 to take a 61-59 lead on a three-pointer by Mike Harris with 1:15 left. After a free throw by Harris pulled Canisius within a point with 56 seconds left, Anthony Bruin took a nice driving baseline feed from Devon Clarke (17 points) and just beat the shot clock with a layup.
But Harris broke Iona's heart. He got open after senior Corey Herring (Timon-St. Jude) set a nice screen that enabled him to shake Clarke. As soon as Harris took the pass from Frank Turner (15 points), he fired the shot that gave Iona coach Jeff Ruland another reason to shake his head in disbelief.
"It's very frustrating," said Ruland, who has guided the program to three of its six NCAA appearances during his career. "We had the game won even as badly as we played. We didn't do enough good things to win the game."
The Griffs (8-10, 3-5) host Marist on Saturday.