End of Game: Niagara wins it, 57-41. The Eagles are 20-6, 11-3 in the MAAC and win 20 games for the fourth time in six years. Canisius falls to 7-18, 2-13 in the league. This makes five straight opponents that Niagara has held under 60 points. That's the first time they've done that since 1963.
2:00 left in the second half: This one is pretty much over. Niagara has moved out to a 57-40 lead. Tyrone Lewis hit a three from in front of his own bench, then Benn made a conventional three-pointer. Canisius, well, their offensive woes have been well documented by now.
7:35 left in the second half: Niagara, 46-38. The Eagles are shooting poorly, but getting a lot of offensive rebounds to keep the Griffs at bay. There was one possession where Niagara missed three shots and got the offensive board every time. They're just amazingly quick to loose balls. Canisius is staying in the game with defense. The Griffs are 37th in the country in defensive field-goal percentage. Their quick, agile front line makes it tough for opponents in the low post.
9:30 left in the second half: Canisius is still hanging around, trailing 45-36. Gadley is back in and drew two quick fouls on Benson Egemonye, the Niagara center, who now has three personals. Greg Logins has 18 points for the Griffs to lead all scorers. They need to get him the ball down low and see if he can goad Egemonye into his fourth.
11:49 left in the second half: Niagara is up, 43-34, but doing its best to keep the Griffs in the game. The Eagles hmaave played some dreadful offensive ball in the last few minutes, heaving shots at the basket with no apparent purpose. Canisius could be even closer if they knew how to convert on the break. Frank Turner is a gamer, but he's as bad as I've ever seen at recognizing when to give the ball up in the open floor. Generally, he doesn't. He doesn't have a point guard's instincts. That's one of Canisius' many problems.
15:24 left in the second half: Canisius is showing some life on its home floor and is still within 10, 41-31. Junior guard Frank Turner scored six straight points early in the half for the Griffs, who are playing good defense and looking to run off missed shots -- which is how they got back in the game in the second half at Niagara three weeks ago. Julius Coles, who was 0-for-5 in the first half, hit a three-pointer for the Griffs, so maybe he'll go on one of his periodic hot streaks.
Halftime: Niagara leads, 31-20. It wasn't pretty. Canisius was dreadful in the half-court offense. Of course, most of the credit goes to Niagara, which made even the simple pass an adventure. I can't wait to see that stats. Maybe they'll come with an advisory that cautions parents against letting their children view them.
Here it is: Canisius shot 7-for-28 in the first half (the kiddies can figure that's 25 percent). They turned the ball over 10 times, which actually seems low. Niagara has seven steals, well on the way to their average of 10.7,which is third in the country. Five different players have at least one steal and five players scored in a 10-0 run. This is Mihalich's dream team, a quick team that loves to attack on offense but has a matching affinity for playing defense. Bilal Benn has four points, seven rebounds, two assists, a block and two steals.
31.6 seconds left in the half: Canisius is down, 31-20, and somehow it seems like they're down 50. Greg Logins has 13 points and is the only Griff to score in the last nine minutes.
7:03 left in the first half: Niagara is now up, 23-10, and thoroughly outclassing the Griffs, who can't get anything going offensively in the half-court offense. I don't know how many steals the Eagles have, but it's a lot. They also have about nine layups as they're consistently taking the ball away and pushing the ball up the floor.
13:26 left in the first half: Niagara is up, 15-6, after a 10-0 run triggered by a couple more steals. The Canisius guards are being eaten alive by the Eagles' half-court man to man. The Griffs are not playing very smart, either. Vazquez-Simmons bricked a three-pointer, then went over someone's back for a stupid foul.
15:58 left in the first half: Canisius leads, 6-5, on three-point shots by forwards Greg Logins and Tomas Vazquez-Simmons. Niagara, which is third in the nation in steals, had a couple early, one a clean strip by Robert Garrison for an easy deuce. Griffs coach Tom Parrotta went to his bench early. Robert Goldsberry, a good defensive player, went in for Elton Frazier barely three minutes in. Then, sure enough, Gadley subbed in four minutes into the contest.
Tipoff: Word is that Chris Gadley, the 6-9, 320-pound junior center from Amherst High, will play tonight for the Griffs. Gadley didn't play against St. Peter's last Sunday and hasn't played regular minutes since injuring his back early in the year. He is averaging 9.7 points and 7.8 rebounds in just 22 minutes a game.
Niagara and Canisius meet for the 166th time tonight at the Koessler Center. The Purple Eagles have dominated the rivalry during Joe Mihalich's 11 seasons on Monteagle Ridge. Niagara has won 11 out of the last 12 in the series, including 75-69 win at Niagara last month.
The Eagles are 19-6 and looking to win 20 games for the fourth time in the last six seasons. Joe Mihalich is also two wins from 200 for his career. That's pretty remarkable for 11 years. Niagara has won at least 17 games nine times under Mihalich. During that same span, Canisius has won 17 games only once.
Of course, last year the Griffs stunned the Eagles here, 70-62, on Brian Dux Night. That was the game when walk-on Bobby Bevilacqua was carried off the court after the final buzzer.
Former Mayor Tony Masiello, the Canisius hoop legend and first fan, stopped by the press table and predicted Griffs by five.
This rivalry is so intense the schools can't even agree on how many games have been played between the schools. Niagara says it's 166. Canisius just announced that it's the 163rd meeting. I'm just hoping it's a good one --- Jerry Sullivan.