Canisius men's basketball moved back into a tie with Rider at the top of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings, defeating Fairfield, 81-63, at the Koessler Athletic Center on Monday. The Golden Griffins (18-9, 12-2 MAAC) have won five straight and 14 of their last 15 games en route to their best conference start in program history.
The Griffs used a 21-4 run in the second half to pull away from the feisty Stags. Jermaine Crumpton led the team with 21 points, while Takal Molson had 16 and Malik Johnson 15.
High water mark: The Golden Griffins haven't won more than 11 games in the MAAC since 2013-14, when Canisius went 14-6 and played in the Collegeinsider.com Postseason Tournament.
First half: Fairfield shot a better percentage than the Griffs in the first 20, 53 percent from the field as opposed to Canisius' 42 percent. Making up the difference for the Griffs was their 3-point shooting, as Canisius hit two more than Fairfield, and the Stags' nine turnovers.
It appeared Canisius would go into the break with a lead after Fairfield's Omar El-Sheikh was called for a charge for two seconds remaining in the half. However, Molson's inbound pass ricocheted off Tyler Nelson's arm, allowing the Stags' leading scorer to gain possession and go up for a basket. Molson was forced to foul and Nelson hit his free throws to tie the game at 43.
Steady as he goes: Crumpton scored in the double digits for a 23rd straight game. He's been particularly effective on his home court, averaging a team-high 20.6 points per game at the Koessler Athletic Center coming into Monday's game. That's the best mark for a Griff since Billy Baron in 2013-14.
Home court advantage: Crumpton isn't alone in having success in friendly territory. Canisius moved to 10-2 at home this season, three better than its total from last season. The Golden Griffins have been over .500 at the Koessler Athletic Center for six straight seasons.
Stay aggressive: Molson made three baskets while getting fouled cutting to the basket in the first half, including one on a nifty inbounds play after he had just checked in. He made the most of the fouls, hitting all three ensuing free throws.
Stuck on the bench: Canisius forced two of Fairfield's most effective big men, Jonathan Kasibabu and Wassef Methnani, into foul trouble. Methnani was perfect from the field in the first half, hitting five shots, but picked up his third foul with 1:54 left in the first. Kasibabu also had three in the first. He was called for his fourth with 16:45 left in the second and fouled out with 3:39 left in the game.
Nice to see you: Fairfield is one of two MAAC opponents the Griffs only see one time this season. The other is Manhattan, which Canisius beat 68-59 on Jan. 19.
Starters: Canisius started Johnson, Crumpton, Selvedin Planincic, Isaiah Reese and Molson. Fairfield started Nelson, Aidas Kavaliauskas, Kasibabu, Ferron Favors Jr. and Jesus Cruz.
Up Next: The Griffs kick off a three-game road trip Friday at Monmouth, a team Canisius beat 94-79 at home earlier this season. Canisius has only one game left at the Koessler Athletic Center this season, a Feb. 25 game against Marist, before heading to Albany for the MAAC Tournament.
Story topics: Canisius men's basketball