Sophomore Kassius Robertson continued his hot scoring, hitting for 27 points Saturday night, and Canisius held off a flurry of three-point baskets by Marist for a 92-83 victory over the Red Foxes in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s basketball game at the McCann Center in Poughkeepsie.
It was the third straight trip to the 20-point mark for the guard from Toronto, following a career-high 28 and 20 in his previous two games.
“Kassius keeps getting better and better for us,” Griffs coach Jim Baron said. “He was in a good flow tonight and give Malcolm McMillan a lot of credit for finding guys in transition for baskets.”
Canisius (7-6, 2-1 MAAC) led, 43-42, at the half then built its lead to as many as 12, 67-55, with 6:21 left.
Marist kept the pressure on though, as junior guard Khallid Hart and Kristinn Paisson, a freshman from Iceland, started hitting threes. Hart had 18 of his 26 points and six of his seven baskets from beyond the three-point line. Paisson hit for 18 points, all on threes. He had three in the final minute alone.
Good free-throw shooting down the stretch preserved the Griffs’ third straight victory. Canisius made 27 of 34 free throws, including 10 of 12 in the final minute.
“This is a good road win for us,” Baron said. “Anytime you go on the road in the league, you have to be ready to go. There’s no easy nights in league play.”
Canisius had four other double-figure scorers besides Robertson, who had 17 in the first half. Freshman guard Chris Atkinson had 16, McMillan 14 and Jermaine Crumpton and Phil Valenti 12 each.
In Albany, Niagara (3-11, 1-2 MAAC) had a four-point halftime lead, but couldn’t hang on and lost to Siena (9-5, 2-1 MAAC) for the sixth time in a row, 75-63.
“We lost the game by not rebounding the basketball,” Niagara coach Chris Casey said. “They did a great job getting to the glass in the second half and they beat us off the glass. We would stop them and they would come up with offensive rebounds. We have to improve in that area.”
The Saints took the lead, 49-47, on a pair of free throws by junior Javion Ogunyemi and never gave it up.
Ogunyemi, a 6-foot-8 junior from Troy, finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Junior transfer Brett Bisping had 20 points for the Saints.
Niagara was led by Emile Blackman, who scored 19 before fouling out. Marvin Prochet had 16 and Matt Scott 14 for the Purple Eagles.
The University at Buffalo women’s team (8-4, 0-1 MAC) lost its Mid-American Conference opener at Eastern Michigan, 67-56.
“We gave this game away today,” said UB coach Felisha Legette-Jack. “Our kids have to understand to win, they need to play with a different kind of desire and we didn’t play with that desire today.”
The third quarter turned out to be the turning point for the Eagles, who extended their lead to 14 points after 30 minutes.
Joanna Smith led the Bulls with 19 points on 7 for 14 from the floor. Katherine Ups of the Bulls had a career-high 14 rebounds. Cassie Oursler (Grand Island) had nine rebounds and six points.
The Canisius women (7-5, 2-1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) lost to visiting Fairfield, 51-50, on a last second desperation jumper by Kristin Schatzlein. The winning shot came after the Griffs seemed to successfully defend a Fairfield possession. However, Schatzlein recovered a loose ball and got her shot away. There was time left for only an unsuccessful jumper by Crystal Porter of Canisius.
The Griffs were led Tiahana Mills, who had 17 points and eight rebounds. Porter notched 11 points. Casey Smith led the Fairfield attack with 16 points.
Fairfield has now defeated Canisius in 12 of their last 13 meetings. The Stags will visit Niagara on Monday, while Canisius will be home to Siena.
The Niagara women (2-10, 0-3 MAAC) dropped a 59-51 game to Siena at the Gallagher Center after leading most of the way.
“Today was tough because we had control of the game for a while and then the tides started to shift,” said Purple Eagles coach Jada Pierce. “Little things that we were doing early on, we stopped doing them.”
Taylor McKay led the Purple Eagles with 14 points and had a career-high five steals. Sam Lapszynski led the team in rebounds with 12.
The Purple Eagles took a 45-37 lead into the fourth quarter.
Bona streak on line
After a perfect December (8-0), the St. Bonaventure women’s team (11-2) will start working on January Sunday afternoon at Rhode Island (6-6) in the Bonnies’ Atlantic 10 opener.
Bona defeated Canisius on Tuesday night to run its winning steak to 10, third longest in the history of women’s basketball at the school. A win Sunday, would equal Bona’s second-longest streak, 11 to start the 2009-10 season. The longest win streak was 18 games in 2011-12.
The Bonnies have won the last seven in the rivalry with the Rams, including a 73-59 triumph at the Reilly Center last season.