ALBANY – The top two seeds are out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. And it's only the quarterfinals.
Rider and Canisius, which shared the regular season championship, were ousted in their first game of the men's championships in Times Union Center Friday night.
Rider, the No. 1 seed, fell to No. 9 Saint Peter's, 66-55, while Canisius, the No. 2 seed, lost to No. 7 Quinnipiac. 72-69.
The Griffs led by as many as 10 in the second half, but turnovers and foul trouble damaged the Griffs' offensive flow and the Bobcats found their stroke from three-point range. Quinnipiac hit 6 of 12 from long range in the second half, including one from Aaron Robinson with 2:32 left to play which put the Bobcats up 66-60.
Malik Johnson hit two free throws with 2:04 left to cut the lead to 66-62. A baseline drive from Rich Kelly gave the Bobcats back a six-point lead but Jermaine Crumpton was fouled on a three-point attempt with 58.3 seconds left. He made two to cut the lead again to four.
Canisius forced a turnover and Johnson put in a layup with 50 seconds left to cut it to 68-66 but Cameron Young hit two free throws with 41.8 seconds left to make it a two possession game.
Crumpton came back down and with a strong low-post move and completed a three-point play with 36.3 seconds left to make it a one-point game, 70-69.
A layup from Kelly gave the Bobcats a three-point lead and while Canisius had two good looks from three-point range, they failed to connect to tie the game.
Good defensive start: As Canisius burst out to a 17-9 lead through the first eight minutes of the game, the Griffs defense helped keep Quinnipiac off kilter. The Bobcats opened the game shooting just 18 percent, going 3 of 17 from the floor with all their points from three-point range (where they were 3 of 12).
Sloppy on the other end: While the Griffs were playing solid defense, they weren't converting misses into points. Canisius committed seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game and the Bobcats turned those into five points, keeping them within striking distance. Which became helpful when the Griffs ran into foul trouble.
About that foul trouble: Canisius led by eight, 19-11, in the first half when Quinnipiac went on an 8-0 run, fueled by a 6-for-6 showing at the free throw line and a layup off a turnover, and the Bobcats had tied the game. Shortly after, they would take a 25-22 lead on a three-pointer from Isaiah Washington.
Reese to the rescue: Trailing by three points with 2:25 left in the first half, Isaiah Reese took charge. The sophomore hit a three-pointer to tie the game which reignited the spark in the Griffs offense. He hit a short jumper to again put the Griffs up, then went to town.
He had a steal and fed Jermaine Crumpton, who was fouled on his layup attempt. Then on the final possession of the half, Reese set a screen for Jibreel Faulkner and directed point guard Malik Johnson to dish the ball. His heady play and communication set up Faulkner for a clear three-pointer, which he drained to give the Griffs a 36-30 lead at the break.
Sloppy second half start: Canisius had a worked for that 36-30 halftime lead, but it quickly was gone at the start of the second when they committed three turnovers in a 2:11 span. Back-to-back three-pointers from Jacob Rigoni tied the game, 38-38.
Finding the flow: The Griffs used a 7-0 run to take a 50-42 lead with 13:47 left in the second half. It started with a three-pointer from Crumpton then Molson and Faulkner put a stamp on it with back-to-back dunks. The Griffs took the first double-digit lead of the game with 12:56 remaining when Jermaine Crumpton put up an offensive rebound for a 52-42 lead.
Bobcats punch back, again: Quinnipiac countered with a 10-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from Aaron Robinson to tie the game for the sixth time with 9:03 left to play.
A record year: It still was a season to remember for the Griffs, who won a share of the league's regular season championship. With 21 wins, they tied the school record for most victories in the regular season.
Up next: Canisius ends its season at 21-11 overall. Seventh-seeded Quinnipiac advances to Sunday's 9:30 p.m. semifinal against the winner of Saturday night's game between No. 3 Niagara and No. 6 Fairfield. That quarterfinal is at 7 p.m. Saturday in Times Union Center.