Mathematically, Canisius has no chance of winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s basketball regular-season championship. The most it can win is nine league games and three teams above them already have won more.
However, coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Golden Griffins (10-17, 5-11 MAAC) showed on Sunday afternoon that they have not given up the ship.
Led by a sensational second half by Majesty Brandon, the junior transfer from Monroe Community College, the Griffs came from 18 points down for a 57-56 win over Manhattan at the Draddy Gymnasium in Riverdale. Brandon made two free throws with 12 seconds to play to put his team in front for good before a 3-point try by the Jaspers (11-14, 7-9) failed before the final horn.
The host Jaspers’ largest lead was 18 points at 32-14 with 2:48 left in the first half. It was the 13th time in 27 games that Canisius has been behind at the half and only the second time they came back to win. This comeback topped any the Griffs have made this season by far.
It might not have been possible without Brandon, who scored all 20 of his points in the second half, including 13 of the Griffs’ first 21 after the break as they began to chip away at the deficit. Canisius finally tied the game at 51 with 4:44 left on a bucket by Brandon. The lead then changed hands five times before Brandon’s winning free throws.
After missing all three of his field goal tries and both free throws in the first half, Brandon made 6 of 10 shots, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range, and all five foul shots as he played 17 of 20 minutes in the second half.
Brandon was the only Griff player to score in double figures. Senior point guard Malik Johnson scored six points but he had six assists to move within two of the Canisius career mark of 616 by Frank Turner (2006-10).
For the second time this season, Marist (7-18, 6-10 MAAC) easily handled Niagara (9-18, 7-9), handing the Purple Eagles a 76-54 setback at McCann Arena in Poughkeepsie.
Marist shot 58 percent in building a 42-33 halftime lead. When Niagara’s shooting went totally cold in the second half (6 of 23 for 26.1 percent), the game became a blowout.
Matthew Herasme, one of the leading 3-point shooters in the MAAC, made 5 of 12 and had 18 points for the winners. Jordan Jones also had 18 while Braden Bell finished with 16.
Bona women fall
The St. Bonaventure University women’s basketball team dropped a 72-58 decision to Richmond at the Reilly Center.
Deja Francis scored a team-high 11 points for the Bonnies (7-20, 4-10 A10) while Emily Calabrese nearly earned a double-double, tallying 10 points and team-high nine rebounds.
Richmond (14-14, 7-7) was led by Jaide Hinds-Clarke’s 22 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bonnies play at Dayton on Wednesday.
Canisius and Niagara women square off for the second time this season Monday at 7 p.m. in the Koessler Athletic Center. The Griffs fell to Niagara at the Gallagher Center, 81-62, on Jan. 27. Canisius has won six straight home games against the Purple Eagles.
The Golden Griffins are coming off a 54-53 home win over Monmouth on Saturday on a basket by D’Jhai Patterson-Ricks with 5 seconds to go. It was the third game-winner in the final seconds for Patterson-Ricks in the last two seasons. Holding Monmouth to 53 points was the first time this season Canisius has held an opponent under 60.
Danielle Sanderlin is averaging 17.9 points and 8.8 rebounds in her last eight games.
Niagara is coming off a 75-51 home loss to Manhattan on Saturday after winning two of its previous three games.