Canisius did just enough of the little things to earn a big conference win Sunday afternoon.
Despite shooting just 38 percent and trailing by five points with less than two minutes to play, the Golden Griffins found a way to fight back for a 70-67 overtime victory over Iona. With the win, Canisius (21-7, 13-4 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) tied the school record for wins in a Division I season and moved a half-game ahead of Fairfield (12-4) for second place in the MAAC standings.
"We just kept grinding. That's what we've always done," Canisius coach Terry Zeh said.
A crowd of 818 at the Koessler Center -- most wearing pink for the WBCA/Kay Yow Foundation for breast cancer research -- saw the Gaels (16-12, 9-8) jump ahead, 53-48, on a pull-up jumper by sophomore Anda Ivkovic with 1:57 left.
It was then one of the little things, an offensive rebound, that turned out to be one of the most important plays of the game. After Canisius senior Amanda Cavo missed the back end of a 1-and-1 from the foul line, Micayla Drysdale grabbed a huge offensive rebound.
After Canisius swung the ball around, Drysdale freed herself for a three-pointer, which she knocked down to cut Iona's lead to 53-52.
"I think that was deflating to them," Zeh said of Drysdale's dagger.
On Iona's ensuing possession, point guard Suzi Fregosi was stripped clean at halfcourt by Canisius guard Brittane Russell, who raced in for an uncontested layup and a 54-53 lead with 1:11 left.
"I knew we were down and the team was looking to me for a play at the defensive end," Russell said.
After Iona tied it on a free throw, Russell got to the hoop for a layup and a 56-54 lead with 24 seconds left, but Iona wouldn't go away. Freshman Milica Paligoric, who had career highs in points (18) and rebounds (7), hit a 12-foot leaner off glass to tie the game at 56.
Instead of calling timeout, Russell raced to the other end, but her off-balance three-pointer was off the mark and the game went to overtime.
The extra session started with a bang for the Griffs, as Cavo knocked down a three-pointer just four seconds after the jump ball.
Canisius didn't trail again, although Iona made it close with a pair of three-pointers in the last 30 seconds. The second made it a one-point game with 10 ticks left before Drysdale then made two free throws to ice it.
Canisius had five players score in double figures, led by forward Marie Warner's 15. Russell had 14 to go with five steals, while Cavo finished with 13 points, Drysdale had 11 and Ellie Radke added 10 off the bench.
Canisius concludes its three-game homestand at 2 p.m. Saturday when it finishes the regular season against Niagara.