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Vazquez-Simmons carries Canisius; Senior's big second half leads to win

Tomas Vazquez-Simmons was awfully quiet in the first half. In the second half, he was positively deafening.

Vazquez-Simmons scored all 15 of his points after intermission, highlighted by a pair of thunderous dunks, to lead Canisius to a 78-72 non-conference victory at Lamar on Wednesday night.

Vazquez-Simmons' efforts helped Canisius (5-6) bounce back from a two-game losing streak.

"The coaches showed me the stat sheet at halftime, and I had one rebound and no points," said Vazquez-Simmons, who finished with seven rebounds and three blocked shots. "I knew I had to show some senior leadership and step it up."

Elton Frazier led Canisius with 22 points, while Gaby Belardo had 15 points and Julius Coles had a double-double with 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds for the Griffs. Canisius shot 54.5 percent (18 of 33) from the floor in the second half. For the game, Canisius was 7 of 18 (38.9 percent) from three-point range.

The Griffs struggled at the line for most of the night, finishing 13 of 20. But Frazier helped seal the win by hitting both ends of a one-and-one to give the Griffs a 74-67 edge with 34 seconds remaining.

"Another example of a senior captain stepping up," Vazquez-Simmons said. "Our leaders have to be leaders."

The Canisius defense held Lamar to 17 points less than its average of 89.2 points per game, which was good for third in the nation coming into the game. The Cardinals shot just 38.7 percent (24 of 62) from the field.

Mike James came off the bench to lead Lamar (5-6) with 15 points. Anthony Miles and Donley Minor had 12 points apiece for the Cardinals, a member of the Southland Conference.

The Golden Griffins dominated the boards, 45-33, and blocked a season-high eight shots.

The win was the last of five road games in December for Canisius, an odyssey that saw the Golden Griffins play in four states. Canisius went 2-3 in those five games.

"I'd ride a mule to get home right now," Canisius coach Tom Parrotta said. "That's how excited I am about this one. It's a great way to go into Christmas."

The Golden Griffins return home to host Northwestern State at 7 p.m. Wednesday. It will be the second meeting in 10 days between the two teams. Northwestern State was an 86-74 winner over Canisius on Dec. 19.

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