Entering the action on Sunday, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference was turning into a one-horse race in the regular season standings. Perennial powerhouse Iona found themselves two games clear of their closest competitor, and are once again looking to win the conference title.
Behind the Gaels, there is a logjam of teams who are all within 5 games of each other, from 2nd place down to 8th place. As the case has been so often in the past, anyone can win their respective conference tournament, and the 2015 MAAC Tournament falls into that category. With so many teams in the mix, it’s much too early to predict who will advance to the NCAA Tournament come March.
Sunday afternoon saw two of the teams who are in the logjam take it to the court to try and gain some positive momentum as we enter the closing stretch of the year. The Saint Peter’s Peacocks took on the Canisius Golden Griffins inside the Koessler Athletic Center on a chilly Sunday afternoon in a battle of two teams who were sitting at 7 – 8 in conference play. On this day, one team would come away with a much-needed win to get them back to the .500 mark and give them positive momentum heading into the final four games of the regular season.
The Golden Griffins took full advantage of playing on their home court, and gave the home crowd a reason to smile with a 69 – 55 win over the Peacocks on Sunday.
Canisius opened the game with strong play on both ends of the floor, racing out to an early 6 – 0 lead, highlighted by four points from senior Josiah Heath. The Peacocks were held off the scoreboard until after the first media timeout, when Marvin Dominique made a layup at the 15:38 mark to break the scoring drought for Saint Peter’s.
Canisius and Saint Peter’s would go on to trade baskets over the next four-plus minutes of the game, with Heath continuing his hot start from the floor and Chazz Patterson making a three-pointer to bring the Peacocks to within two points before the second media timeout of the half.
Out of the media timeout, Jeremiah Williams would make his presence felt on the offensive end for the Golden Griffins. Including a basket before the second media timeout, Williams scored nine straight points for Canisius, and the Peacocks were held off the scoreboard for over five minutes. Canisius was able to stretch their lead to 11 thanks to their strong play on both ends of the floor.
Marvin Dominique would do his best to bring the Peacocks back, scoring eight straight points for Saint Peter’s to close out the half and bring the Peacocks within six at one point. However, back-to-back three pointers for Williams and Zach Lewis put a stop to any positive momentum that Saint Peter’s had generated, and the Golden Griffins rolled into the break with a double-digit lead.
After the first 20 minutes of play, Canisius held a commanding 33 – 18 lead over the visiting Saint Peter’s Peacocks.
Tyler Gaskins opened the second half with a layup for the Peacocks, but Canisius would continue their strong play on the offensive end and would push the lead to 19 points. Jamal Reynolds made two layups, and Kevin Bleeker added a jumper of his own, and Canisius had a 39 – 20 lead with 17 minutes left to play in the game.
The lead would stretch to as many as 26 points, thanks to a three-pointer from Bleeker and a jumper from Josiah Heath. Saint Peter’s would continue to fight, but they were never able to gain any momentum against the Golden Griffins on this day.
Saint Peter’s would cut the deficit to 14 points, but that’s as close as they would get to Canisius. The Golden Griffins had things on cruise control in the second half, and rolled to the 69 – 55 win on their home floor.
For the visiting Saint Peter’s Peacocks, Marvin Dominique led the way with 15 points and 7 rebounds in a losing effort. Chazz Patterson chipped in with 10 points off the bench, but it was not enough to lead his team to victory.
For the hometown Canisius Golden Griffins, Jeremiah Williams scored a game-high 22 points off the bench to lead the team to a much-needed victory on Sunday. Senior forward Josiah Heath recorded a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Kevin Bleeker added in 10 points of his own.
The loss put an end to the three game winning streak of the Saint Peter’s Peacocks (13 – 14, 7 – 9). They will look to start a new winning streak on Thursday when they welcome Monmouth to town.
On the contrary, the win put an end to a four-game losing streak for the Canisius Golden Griffins (13 – 12, 8 – 8). They will look to keep the winning ways going when they travel to take on the Siena Saints on Thursday night.