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Down 11 in final minute, Griffs storm back to win in triple-OT

Things can get kind of crazy in Las Vegas. Even college basketball games.

With just over two minutes left in regulation, the University of Louisiana-Monroe had a 13-point lead over Canisius College. But the Golden Griffins didn’t get the memo to put the game in cruise control. The Griffs stormed back, sending the game into overtime.

Then another overtime. And one more for good measure.

The Griffs finally outlasted ULM for a 108-96 win in triple overtime at the Las Vegas Classic on Tuesday night.

The win tied the NCAA record for the largest deficit overcome in the final minute. The Griffs used a 12-1 run in the last 58 seconds to erase an 11-point deficit. UNLV trailed by 11 in the final minute against San Diego State and came back for a 93-91 overtime win on Feb. 12, 2005.

“This was an amazing team effort,” Canisius coach Jim Baron said. “We just kept coming at them. We had guys like Chris Atkinson, a freshman, making huge threes and then we had a redshirt freshman in Isaiah Gurley take a huge charge late. That right there was an example of how we play. We’re junkyard dogs. We don’t give up.”

Freshman Chris Atkinson, who hit the game-tying three-pointer in regulation to send the game into overtime, said “I had an open look and I just took it. It was all a part of being in the moment really. The coaches tell us to shoot when we’re open and I did. It was a real boost for us, because we were down so much late. ... I know the guys and the coaches trust me and have confidence in me so I just let it go.”

In the first extra period, Malcolm McMillan was fouled on a three-point shot attempt. He made all three free throws to give the Griffs an 89-88 lead with 6.3 seconds left. It was the first lead for Canisius since 3:43 left in the half. But then with 0.4 seconds left, UML’s Jake Coppolla made one of two free throws, sending the game to double overtime.

Canisius again had a chance to win in the second OT when Kassius Robertson was fouled with one second left. He missed both free throws. Off to triple OT the teams went.

The Griffs went on a 12-0 run in the third extra period to take the win and improve to 5-6 overall.

“I thought they got tired late, they had some guys foul out and we switched to zone because they couldn’t make jump shots,” Baron said.

It just the sixth game in Canisius program history to go three-plus overtimes. It was the Griffs’ first triple OT game since they defeated Siena, 92-88, on Feb. 16, 2014.

Canisius, 5-6, plays Nicholls in the final game of the Las Vegas Classic Wednesday at 5 p.m. (Radio 1230 AM).

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