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Canisius splits twin-bill; Men fall short; women earn win

Points were precious in the Koessler Athletic Center on Thursday night.

In a nonconference doubleheader, the Canisius women made key plays down the stretch to grab a win over Albany, while the Golden Griffin men stumbled in the final seven minutes in a loss to Loyola (Chicago).

In the nightcap, Loyola increased its intensity in the late stages of the second half to pull away to a 59-45 win. Canisius took a 36-32 lead on a three-pointer from Gaby Belardo with 8:15 to play. But the Ramblers responded with a 10-0 run as the Griffs rushed on offense, took some bad shots and lost their men on defense.

Canisius (2-9) didn't score again until Alshwan Hymes hit a three with 4:28 left but the Ramblers were aggressive in the paint and got to the free throw line to keep their rhythm.

"We were ultra, ultra aggressive from a defensive standpoint," Canisius coach Tom Parrotta said. "We were flying around out there guarding the basketball. In a span in the second half we got a little bit complacent on defense, especially on the ball. And we couldn't get separation. We just couldn't get that breakthrough. We didn't knock down shots.

"I can't blame the defense. I think they're doing the job. We have to make shots."

The Ramblers' (5-7) post players dominated in the second half; Ben Averkamp finished with 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting and Walt Gibler with 12 rebounds. Loyola made half of its 22 shots and 17 of its 18 free throws in the second half, when Canisius made only 10 of its 36 shots and 4 of 6 from the line.

Belardo and Harold Washington each had 10 points for the Griffs while Chris Manhertz had 13.

Meanwhile, a fade-away jumper by Ashley Wilkes with 29 seconds left and good defense in the final seconds gave the Canisius women a 64-60 win over Albany. It was a gutsy performance by the Griffs, who trailed by 11 early in the second half but responded with a 7-0 run to get back in the thick of the game.

With the scored tied, 47-47, with 6:42 left to play, the Griffs went on a 5-0 run to sprint ahead and take control.

With a 59-51 lead with 3:27 left, it looked like a win for Canisius, but Albany wasn't finished. The Great Danes hit three quick three-pointers to pull within one, 61-60 with 1:04 remaining. That's when Canisius worked the ball down the court and Wilkes took a pass from Allison Braun and made a shot as the shot clock wound down to quash the Albany run and put the Griffs up, 63-60.

"I got the ball inside and I knew I didn't have to rush my shot," Wilkes said. "There was still a lot of time left and we simulate that in practice. Three seconds is a lot of time with the ball. I just turned and shot the ball. It teased me a bit with bouncing around the rim but it felt good to put us up by three."

Lindsey Lowrie missed a solid look at a three-pointer on the other end and Jamie Ruttle hit one of two free throws to seal the win for the Griffs (5-5).

While there is plenty to work on, including 18 turnovers and only six offensive rebounds, the key for coach Terry Zeh was the way his team responded. It wasn't just that they didn't fold; it's that they believed they could win.

"I'm most pleased with the emotional gut check," Zeh said. "You will get better at the basketball things. That's not what makes great teams.

"There's a little piece inside of you that has to grind to make great teams. Our captain Allison Braun has it and it's starting to get through to the rest of us.

"Our practices aren't easy right now. You would think I hate every one of them. I put emotional stress on them. I put physical stress on them. That's why they can do what they did tonight."

Courtney VandeBovenkamp led Canisius with 14 points while Ashley Durham had eight assists.

Canisius concludes its non-conference schedule on Wednesday, when the Golden Griffins host Cornell in the Koessler Athletic Center. Game time for the start of the doubleheader is set for 5:15 p.m. The men play Binghamton in the nightcap.