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Live from the Manhattan Cup semifinals: Canisius, Nichols win

I don't know if I've mentioned that I love my job lately. Well, on day two of nine straight days of playoff basketball, with St. Joe's-Canisius the first of two Manhattan Cup semifinals to be played today, it's about that time.

6:14 p.m. St. Joe's will try to beat Canisius for the first time this season after losing both of the rivals' matchups during the regular season in the first semifinal, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (about 20 minutes from now). The second semifinal has top-seeded Nichols taking on St. Francis.

6:28 p.m. As the Canisius Pep Band gives us a little "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister (booyah!), the clock is down to zero and we're about to get things started.

Here's a reminder that this game can be heard online via St. Joe's Web site

6:32 p.m. Starters for Joe's: junior James Maiarana, sophomore Thomas Escott, junior Kyle Wojciechowski, junior Matt Dyrek and senior Evan King.

Starters for Canisius: junior Taylor Baach, senior Sean Brady, junior Blair Helton, sophomore Aaron Nevins, senior Andrew Zdrojewski.

6:44 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Canisius has a 14-9 lead over St. Joe's. Five different scorers for Canisius, four for St. Joe's. 

Canisius looks very composed, running some nice set plays with Helton setting up three baskets with passes and hitting a three-pointer himself. St. Joe's is still very young, so we'll see if the bright lights here affect them.

6:51 p.m. Canisius' Taylor Baach calls a timeout after getting a loose ball with 4:27 left in the second quarter and Canisius leading, 21-20. 

6:52 p.m. Baach reels in another loose ball and calls a timeout with 3:51 left in the second. Pat Wilson just had a strong rebound and follow off a missed Helton three-pointer to give Canisius a 23-20 lead.  

7 p.m. St. Joe's coach Mark Simon calls a timeout with 16.3 seconds left in the first half and Canisius up, 25-22. Helton's putback made it 25-20 before a circus bank-shot drive by Wojciechowski.

7:03 p.m. It is HALFTIME and we are tied at 25-25 thanks to a long three-pointer by sophomore Connor Rehbaum of St. Joe's.  

7:13 p.m. The second half is under way.

7:18 p.m. St. Joe's has taken its first lead -- Matt Dyrek hit a three-pointer for a 30-27 lead and then he added a spin-and-floater to make it 32-27 with 5:22 left in the third.

7:30 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, St. Joe's has a 34-31 lead

7:36 p.m. St. Joe's pushes its lead to 41-33 on a great three-point play by James Maiarana -- who drove to the left and hit a high bank shot after drawing contact -- with 5:23 left. 

7:39 p.m. Canisius tightens it up at 41-39 on a drive by Helton with 4:30 to go -- he could have made it a three-point play but missed the free throw.

7:41 p.m. St. Joe's calls a timeout with 4:09 left to play and a 42-39 lead. Sean Mulhern just went one for two at the line. 

7:44 p.m. Mulhern goes to the floor to get a loose ball and St. Joe's calls a timeout with 3:14 left and still holding a 42-39 lead.

7:47 p.m. Canisius calls a timeout with 1:45 to play. Helton just missed a drive to the basket after Brian Graham made a nice steal on the defensive end. It is St. Joe's ball and the game is tied at 42-42.

7:50 p.m. Canisius is up, 47-42, with 1:03 left thanks to two fast-break baskets by Helton. The first was a three-point play off a pass from Brady, the second he converted in the lane after just corralling a pass from Graham. Both breaks came off missed three-pointers by St. Joe's. 

7:54 p.m. Canisius is up 49-44 with 39.5 seconds left after a press-breaking basket by Max Baire off a pass from Brady.

7:56 p.m. Looks like Canisius will beat its rival for a third time. St. Joe's had a couple of empty trips while Canisius added a free throw from Zdrojewski (22.2 seconds left) and Helton (nine seconds left) for a 51-44 lead.

7:58 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Canisius 51, St. Joe's 47.

* * * 

8:25 p.m. We are under way with Nichols-St. Francis. Nichols has an early 7-2 lead. 

8:34 p.m. We're at the end of the first quarter and Nichols leads St. Francis, 18-10. Not sure how much I can update here because I've got to write a story on deadline. I'll have updates after the quarters but I'm not sure how much more. 

8:57 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Nichols has a 29-25 lead. The Vikings had led by as much as 11 (24-13) but St. Francis hung in there and cut it to four on Matthew Hagner's layup off a pass from Matthew Reger on a well-executed press break. I have Will Regan for six blocks.

9:11 p.m. Well look what we have here: St. Francis 35, Nichols 33 with 4:50 to go; Nichols has called a timeout. St. Francis got three-pointers from Delano Fabor and Matthew Reger early in the quarter and took the lead on a great transition bounce pass from Ozzie Lumpkin ahead to Kyle Clifford.

9:20 p.m. I really don't need this with my deadline tonight. St. Francis is trying to pull of a major upset. We are tied at 38-38 after the third quarter. St. Francis was up by as many as four (38-34) on a three-pointer by Clifford.

9:28 p.m. A Ron Canestro three-point play has tied the game at 47-47 with 5:11 to go; Nichols calls a timeout. St. Francis had taken a 47-44 lead on a steal and layup by Aaron Schichtel.

9:37 p.m. Nichols has taken a 56-52 lead with 1:04 left (and called timeout). Chris Stegemann made a huge steal-and-layup and Canestro followed with a slick baseline bank-shot drive after the game was tied at 52-52 with three minutes left. 

9:42 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Nichols wins, 63-54.

---Keith McShea

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