Canisius College won one defensive battle but lost the scoring war Friday against the most explosive team in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Iona College, the top-scoring team in the MAAC six years running, rolled to an 84-66 victory over the Griffs at the Koessler Athletic Center.
Canisius held Iona star point guard A.J. English to 10 points, 12 under his MAAC-leading season average. But English did his damage distributing the ball, handing out a career-high 14 assists.
Six of those assists went to 6-foot-5 wing Deyshonee Much, who left the University at Buffalo for Iona last fall. Much scored a career-high 30 points. He had a career-best eight three-pointers.
“As a shooter when a couple go in, the rim gets wider and wider,” Much said. “As the game went on, I got more comfortable. . . . My job is to sprint down my lane. As long as I do that, my point guard will find me.”
Said English: “I told him in the shoot-around, ‘Bro, if you get hot, I’ll get you going.’”
Records: Canisius lost its fourth straight and fell to 10-14 overall and 5-8 in the MAAC. The Griffs are in ninth place. Iona is 13-9 and 10-3, a game behind first-place Monmouth.
Too Much: Much, a Rochester product, was the first recruit to commit to UB after Bobby Hurley took the Bulls coaching job in 2013. Much averaged just 6 minutes a game as a freshman. He parted ways with UB just before the start of last season. Much didn’t want to talk about UB other than to say he stayed on good terms with Hurley.
After sitting out last season, Much has been a key addition for Iona. He’s averaging 13.5 points, third best on the team.
“Dey had a tremendous night,” said Iona coach Tim Cluess. “I don’t think he played the same way at his previous school or got as many minutes, so to me he’s kind of like a freshman. He’s really stepping up and learning how to play. We know he can shoot the ball and tonight we saw that. But he’s starting to make a better effort defensively of understanding where he’s supposed to be.”
Big gun: English, the preseason player of the year in the MAAC, almost had a triple-double. Besides his 10 points and 14 assists, the 6-4 senior also had nine rebounds.
Canisius’ Malcolm McMillan did a good job staying in front of English and keeping him from getting to the rim.
“I thought Malcolm did a real solid job,” said Canisius coach Jim Baron. But English “made other players better, and that’s the sign of a great player. Being a big guard, he kind of saw over us.”
With English, Much and 6-7 Isaiah Williams all able to shoot the three, Iona’s perimeter offense is tough to stop.
“When you got two guys like that,” said Baron, referring to Williams and Much, “you really can’t help out much, and that’s where English picks you apart.”
Top Griffs: Canisius got 18 points from both McMillan and sophomore forward Jermaine Crumpton. Junior forward Phil Valenti added 13.
New guard: Kiefer Douse made his third straight start for the Griffs. He’s a 6-3 Ontario native who came to Buffalo from a Texas junior college, and he replaced 6-4 senior Jamal Reynolds in the lineup. Douse had 11 points and played with more confidence, which Baron hopes continues.
“We’re going to need it,” Baron said of Douse. “The thing about it is he can put the ball on the floor. He has the ability to shoot the ball, and we need another ball-handler to take the pressure off of Malcolm.”
In the house: Attendance was 1,702.
Up next: Rider visits Canisius at 3 p.m. Sunday.