More and more Canisius looks like a serious contender for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men's basketball regular season championship.
The surprising Golden Griffins ran their conference record to 5-1 with a 94-79 triumph over Monmouth on Sunday afternoon before 1,136 at the Koessler Athletic Center.
The outcome left the Griffs tied with Iona for the MAAC lead. Iona knocked Rider out of its share of first place with a 91-64 rout on Sunday in New Rochelle.
Coach Reggie Witherspoon's Griffs trailed by as many as 13 points (27-14) in the first half against Monmouth but outscored the Hawks, 15-6 over the last 4:15 before intermission and went into the break trailing by only two, 45-43.
Canisius took the lead 50-49 on a fast break dunk by Jermaine Crumpton and never trailed after that. The Griffs took more complete charge by outscoring Monmouth, 18-9, over a span of a little more than 7 minutes to take an 85-66 lead, their largest of the game, with 5:18 to play.
Nine of the points in the run were supplied off the bench by Jonathan Sanks, who made all of his three three-point shots in the run. Those were the only shots he attempted all game in 17 minutes on the floor.
Crumpton, the senior forward from Niagara Falls, finished with 23 points. Isaiah Reese had 22 and freshman Takal Molson had 18. Jimbreel Faulker had 12 points for Canisius his career high. Between Crumpton and Molson they made 19 of 25 free throws. Canisius outscored Monmouth by nine (32-23) at the stripe and by eight on three-point baskets.
Austin Tilghman had 22 points for Monmouth.
Canisius has a big road trip to the New York City area this weekend. The Griffs will play at Manhattan on Friday and take on Iona on Sunday afternoon. Manhattan is tied for third place in the MAAC with Rider and Niagara at 4-2.
The Griffs handed Iona's Gaels their only loss on conference play so far. Canisius' loss was at the hands of Siena, which is tied for last place.
Niagara has a women's home game today against Siena at 11 a.m. in the Taps Gallagher Center. The Purple Eagles, who defeated the Saints a week ago in Albany, 73-68, will be looking for their third MAAC victory in a row. They edged Manhattan, 65-64, on two free throws by Victoria Rampado at home on Saturday.
Rampado is coming off a big week. Besides her clutch shots against Manhattan she scored a career-high 41 points in the win over Siena on Jan. 7.