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Early deficit dooms Canisius men's basketball; Niagara loses

Early deficit dooms Canisius men's basketball; Niagara loses

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Canisius College Basketball (copy)

Canisius College basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon during practice at the Koessler Center on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021.

It's difficult to win a basketball game when you start by trailing 14-0. Still looking for their first victory of the season, the Canisius Golden Griffins could not dig out of an early hole and lost a nonconference game to Cleveland State, 80-70, Saturday afternoon at the Henry J. Goodman Arena in Cleveland.

The host Vikings (2-2) shot 57.4% (31 of 54) in the game, making 18 of 27 shots in the opening half, including 7 of 10 on 3-pointers.

D'Moi Hodge, a 6-foot-4 senior guard from the British Virgin Islands, led Cleveland State with 27 points. Hodge scored 10 of the 14 points in the Vikings' starting run and had 17 first-half points.

Siem Uijtendaal, 6-foot-6 sophomore from the Netherlands, led Canisius with 18 points. His output was part of the 38 points Canisius coach Reggie Witherspoon received from his bench as the Griffs tried to erase the early deficit.

Starter Jaco Fritz had 15 points and Malek Green had 15 off the bench for the Griffs. Fritz also had 10 rebounds as Canisius outrebounded the Vikings, 31-24.

Cleveland State's largest lead was 19 in the second quarter. It was 45-34 at the half. Canisius got as close as six points in the second half.

“Cleveland State is a veteran team with a lot of weapons and we were not ready to match their intensity," Witherspoon said. "We had three turnovers in the first four minutes of the game and that put us on our heels right from the start, at both ends of the floor."

Next for Canisius will be five consecutive home games, starting with a 7 p.m. game Monday against Division III Fredonia State and a 2 p.m. game Wednesday against Coppin State (Md.).

Niagara falls

St. Thomas University (2-3), playing its first year of Division I basketball after making the jump from Division III, had its way with Niagara, pinning a 76-67 loss on the Purple Eagles in the second day of the YSU/J. Arnold Wealth Management Company Tournament at the Covelli Center in Youngstown, Ohio.

Niagara (1-3) will play host Youngstown State University at 3:45 on Sunday afternoon in the third day of the tournament.

St. Thomas, located in St. Paul, Minn., put a mostly homegrown team from Minnesota on the floor in handing the Purple Eagles their third loss. The lone Niagara win was over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville of the Ohio Valley Conference on the opening day of the YSU tournament on Friday.

Four of the five starters for the Tommies scored in double figures, led by Anders Nelson with 19 points and Parker Bjorklund with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Riley Miller, who shot only from outside the 3-point arc, had 15 for St. Thomas, making 5 of 13 shots, all threes.

Miller's 3-pointer with 42 seconds left in the first half broke the last tie of the game. St. Thomas led the rest of the way. The largest lead was 15 points, 58-43, with 10:58 left after a three by Brooks Allen.

Niagara was able to get as close as seven, 72-65, after a jumper by Marcus Hammond with 1:47 left. Sam Iorio had 15 points and Greg Kuakumensah had 13 for NU.

Hammond led Niagara with 17 points, but was only 1 for 7 from 3-point range.

Niagara shot 61.4%, making 27 of 44 shots, but was outgunned on threes. The Purple Eagles made 6 of 16  while St. Thomas made 13 of 34. St. Thomas had a 24-21 rebounding advantage and turned the ball over only four times to 14 for Niagara.

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