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Defense wins one for Griffs

This is the type of defense the Canisius women's basketball team wants to be playing late in the season -- active, aggressive and intelligent.

On the strength of that defensive rotation and the ensuing scoring opportunities it created, the Golden Griffins eased their way to a 61-44 win over the Loyola Greyhounds in front of 700 at the Koessler Center on Friday night.

It was the third time this season the Griffs held an opponent to fewer than 50 points while the win moved Canisius to 20-7 -- just the third time in the Division I era the program has reached the 20-win plateau.

At 12-4 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the Griffs remain tied with Fairfield for second in the conference behind Marist (14-2).

Loyola shot just 32.6 percent from the field for the game and Canisius forced 22 Greyhounds turnovers, which it converted into 25 points.

"I felt like we were all on the same page [defensively]," senior forward JJ Williams said. "We had scouted a few plays and prepared for them and that really worked for us a few times. The communication was huge, especially in the first half."

"We were aggressive and then we got some turnovers and that was like throwing kerosene on a fire," coach Terry Zeh said. "You just feed off it."

Feeding off the defense also allowed the Griffs to look more comfortable in their offense. Marie Warner led all scorers with 17 points but the rest of the offense was distributed among nine other players.

Friday's game also highlighted a trend for the Griffs this season -- distributing minutes.

Entering the weekend, Canisius was the only team in the MAAC to have eight players averaging 18 minutes a game.

In this win, the Griffs had nine players in double-digit minutes and received significant contributions off the bench from Stephanie MacDonald (six points, three assists), Katie Hart (seven rebounds) and Tasia Lee (five points, three rebounds).

"It's a long season and if we can play this many people and come away with a 17-point win, that's a good thing to have," Zeh said. "It's really good for today and it's really good for Sunday [against Iona] and it's really good for the MAAC Tournament."

The Griffs host Iona at 2 p.m. Sunday in the "Pink Zone" fundraiser game for the WBCA/Kay Yow Foundation for breast cancer research.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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