Monmouth made it interesting, but Canisius was able to hang on for a 60-59 victory Friday night at the OceanFirst Bank Center in West Long Branch, N.J.
The win gives them sole possession of first place in the division. Iona (12-15, 10-6 MAAC) waits right behind Canisius (13-14, 10-5 MAAC) after the Gaels defeated Manhattan.
Takal Molson led the team with 15 points on an overall poor shooting night for the Griffs.
Scott Hitchon and Jonathan Sanks rounded out Canisius’ top three scorers with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Monmouth (10-19, 9-7 MAAC) was led by Diago Quinn with 13 points.
Neither side lit up the scoreboard as Canisius shot just 30 percent from the field (17 of 57).
Some of that can be attributed to the long ball; the Griffs attempted 34 3-pointers, hitting on 10 of them.
Monmouth fared slightly better; the Hawks connected on 22 of their 58 shots for 43 percent.
“This was a grinding out session,” said Coach Reggie Witherspoon after the game. “I think our guys really locked in and took the challenge.”
The challenge Witherspoon alluded to was getting “stops,” especially with Monmouth threatening to score with seconds left in the game.
Witherspoon played four guards, including 6-foot-8 Marcale Lotts, who stopped Quinn’s last-second jumper as time expired.
If there is a team in the MAAC that knows how to grind out wins, its Canisius. Their last four triumphs have been decided by five points or fewer.
The Griffs will now travel to New Rochelle to challenge Iona at 1 p.m. Sunday. A win would tighten their grip on the conference, while a loss would give the Gaels a leg up.
Rider finishes off Niagara
A 32-point halftime deficit was too much to overcome for Niagara as the Purple Eagles fell to Rider, 97-81, on Friday night.
Marcus Hammond led the Eagles (12-16, 5-10 MAAC) with 15 points off the bench. Marvin Prochet, who averages 16.5 points per game, was held to eight in the loss.
Junior Stevie Jordan led Rider with 21 points. He went 9 for 13 from the field, including 3 of 4 from 3-point territory.
Niagara will be on the road again when they play St. Peter’s at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Canisius women fall in OT
Canisius’ women’s basketball team battled to overtime but were unable to finish off Siena en route to a 74-66 loss Friday night at the Koessler Athletic Center.
Sara Hinriksdottir had a double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds) to lead the Griffs (9-17, 7-8 MAAC).
D’Jhai Patterson-Ricks logged 15 points but also committed 10 turnovers.
The Saints (12-15, 8-8 MAAC) were propelled by a 26-point show by Sabrina Piper. Aaliyah Jones added 21 points.
Canisius has now lost five in a row. They’ll look to right the ship Sunday when Monmouth comes to the Koessler Athletic Center for a 2 p.m. tip.
Monmouth tops NU women
Despite two 20-point showings from Emerald Ekpiteta and Jai Moore, Niagara’s women’s basketball team was defeated by Monmouth, 88-81, at the Gallagher Center Friday night.
Ekpiteta’s 22 points were a season-high for the sophomore. She also recorded six rebounds.
Moore dropped 20 points and also dished out eight assists for the Eagles (12-15, 8-7 MAAC).
Lucy Thomas led the Hawks (12-14, 8-7 MAAC) with 20 points and six boards.
A 32-point third quarter gave Niagara the lead at one point, but the Eagles were unable to hang on.
Third-place Rider will visit the Gallagher Center on Sunday at 2 p.m.
After that, Niagara will travel to the Koessler Athletic Center for a game with rival Canisius on Feb. 27.
Bonnies on national TV
St. Bonaventure’s men’s hoops team will be back in the national spotlight today as the Bonnies take on Fordham at 4:30 p.m.
The sold-out game will be broadcast on NBCSN.
The Bonnies (12-14, 8-5 A-10) arrive in The Bronx with a three-game win streak. They’ve also won their past four road games.
The play of freshman Kyle Lofton has had a big hand in St. Bonaventure’s recent success.
Lofton, last week’s Atlantic 10 Player of the Week, is sixth in the conference in total points with 390 in 26 games.
Fordham (9-17, 2-11 A-10) sits in 13th place in the conference.
They’ll count on the play of guard Nick Honor, seventh in the league in scoring, to spark its offense.