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Big 4 hoops: Canisius, Niagara suffer close losses on the road

Canisius and Niagara  came up short at the finish and dropped close men's basketball decisions on the road Tuesday.

The Golden Griffins (0-2) fell behind Cleveland State (1-1) midway through the second half and could not catch up, losing,  67-64, in the Wolstein Center in Cleveland.

Niagara overcame a sizable deficit to force overtime, but lost to Hartford, 82-78. The game with a 6:30 a.m. tipoff  was part of the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.

Canisius never trailed by more than four points once it gave up the lead, 56-53, on a three by Kasheem Thomas of the Vikings with 9L26 left. Twice the Griffs closed to within a point, the last time on a three-point shot by Jermaine Crumpton to make it 65-64 with 1:48 left. Bobby Word of the Vikings tipped in a rebound with 15 seconds left.

The Griffs called a time out with 9 seconds left but Kassius Robertson missed a three-point try with 4 seconds left and Derek Sloan grabbed the defensive rebound for Cleveland State.

Canisius led 36-31 at the half and a three-pointer by Robertson to open the second hald gave Canisius its largest lead of the gane eight points.

Crumpton led Canisius with 21 points. Robertson had 13 and Phil Valenti 10.  Rob Edwards had 17 and Word 14 for Cleveland State

The Griffs made 23 of 54 field goal tries (42.6 percent) and went 8 for 19 from three-point range (42.1). Cleveland State was 28-60 (46.7) from the floor including 7 of 20 on three-point tries and outrebouneded Canisius, 35-39.

In its loss to Hartford in their breakfast hour game in West Hartford, Conn., Niagara had more field goals (26-24), more three-point field goals (11-8), more rebounds (40-30) and fewer turnovers (11-14) than the Hawk.

The Purple Eagles (0-3) rallied from 14-points down with 5:33 (64-50) left in the game to force overtime, but Hartford's Jason Dunne and Jalen Ross scored clutch points in the extra period.

Ross led Hartford with a career high 35 points, including 13 of 14 from the foul line. Overall, the Hawks were 26 of 32 at the line to 15 of 25 for Niagara.

Matt Scott led Niagara with 26 points, but it was Dominic Robb and Kahlil Dukes who led the late rally. Robb scored eight points and Dukes hit three three-pointers in Niagara's 20-6 surge. The Purple Eagles tied the game at 68 with 1:22 left when Robb made a pair of free throws and moved in front, 70-68, when the 6-8 sophomore forward scored a layup off a pass from Scott. Ross knotted the score again on two foul shots with 39 seconds left, and Niagara had two chances to win it after that, but Scott and Dukes missed three-point tries.

In the overtime Dunne made two  threes, each one giving the Hawks the lead, 73-72 and 80-78, and his two free throws with 6 seconds left iced it. Ross was 4 for 4 at the line in the overtime. Dunne finished with 20 points for Hartford.

Robb had 17 points while Dukes and Shane Gatling had 11 each for Niagara.

"I’m extremely proud on the way our guys competed and continued to grind the game out and got it to overtime," Niagara coach Chris Casey said. "We are learning as a new and young group on how to take advantage of opportunities."

Wednesday's games

All four Big 4 women's teams will be in action Wednesday night in two rivalry games, both at 7 p.m..

Niagara (1-1) will face the University at Buffalo (1-0) at Alumni Arena in Amherst (Radio 1520) while Canisius (0-1) visits St. Bonaventure (1-1) .

Niagara was impressive in defeating St. Bonaventure, 65-43, last Friday, but was humbled in a 107-35 loss at Michigan. UB, coming off a Mid-American Conference championship season, opened with a 61-47 win at home over Massachusetts. Perhaps the most impressive newcomer to the Big 4 women's basketball scene this season is UB's 6-1 freshman forward Summer Hemphill, who broke in with a nine-rebound performance against UMass. UB has won the last 11 meeting against Niagara.

Canisius, with an experienced starting five, has hopes for an improved season, but dropped its opener at home on Sunday to Northeastern, 83-59. The Bonnies rebounded from the loss to the Purple Eagles by defeating Colgate, 70-57, in their home opener on Sunday giving new head coach Jesse Fleming his first win. Bona has won 10 straight over the Griffs in the rivalry, nine by double-digit margins. The last Canisius victory over the Bonnies was in the 2005-06 season.




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