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Griff women roll, men break through; Washington paces first home victory

Canisius needed a night of wins. The women wanted to sustain momentum. The men wanted to break a losing streak and get their first victory at home.

Both Golden Griffin teams pulled out wins in front of 1,331 at the Koessler Athletic Center Wednesday night in a nonconference doubleheader. The men outlasted Binghamton, 75-66, after the women bested Cornell, 62-45.

The men (3-9) won for the first time at home in five tries. Harold Washington netted 27 points and scored from everywhere -- on layups, jumpers, on dribble penetration and he even made two three-pointers.

"I was cognizant of [being aggressive] and the last few games I found myself playing into the hand of the defense," Washington said. "Against defensive zones, I was lackadaisical swinging the ball around instead of looking to attack and create. I'm realizing even attacking I don't have to always score. With me attacking, it creates shots for my teammates. That's pretty much what I was doing today."

The Bearcats (0-11) stuck around, stretched the Canisius defense and lulled the Griffs into mistakes at key times to stay in the game but the Griffs gutted out an ugly win.

"I told the guys before the game that this was a dangerous game," Canisius coach Tom Parrotta said. "The guys found a way to win and it was as ugly as it could possibly be at times.

"We didn't defend as well as we could, and some of that was a credit to [Binghamton]. We shot the ball well, outrebounded them and didn't turn the ball over. Those are the things we have to accentuate."

Winning is becoming contagious for the Canisius women, who racked up their third straight victory with a 62-45 win over Cornell (3-7).

The Griffs (6-5) set the tone early by knocking down open three-pointers. Those seemed like the easy points in the first half as Canisius went 6 for 10 from the arc. But more notable for Canisius coach Terry Zeh was the way his team was able to establish an inside game. Sophomore forward Jamie Ruttle found room to move, tying her career high with 20 points including several regular three-point plays as the Griffs were impressive in all facets of the game as they built a 37-22, first-half lead.

"It all comes from practice," Ruttle said. "We practice scoring against contact and that was especially important in this game against smaller post players. We needed to be more physical. We practice a strong finish."

With the scored tied, 13-13, the Griffs went on a 10-0 run, grabbing a double-digit led they would enjoy the rest of the game. It was fueled in large part by a defense that forced 20 Cornell turnovers that it turned into 21 points. And don't forget the assists -- the Griffs had 15 assists on 20 baskets, led by Jen Morabito's five.

"There are a couple of keys to getting a lot of assists and one is that you have to make baskets," Zeh said. "This team is willing to pass to each other. That's good and the great thing is we're passing to people who can make baskets and score in lots of different places. You don't know where it's going to come from on different nights but as long as it comes from somewhere, I'm fine with that."

Both Canisius teams are off until 2012, when the men resume Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play and the women kick off their league season. The men, 0-2 in the MAAC after early December league games, travel to Fairfield on Jan. 1. The women begin MAAC play Jan. 2 at Siena.

email: amoritz@buffnews.com