BUFFALO, N.Y. — It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
For the Canisius Golden Griffins, that was the case on Sunday afternoon. The Golden Griffins were able to overcome a slow start in the first half, and they pulled away in the second frame for a 94-79 win over the Monmouth Hawks to improve to 5-1 in MAAC play.
With the brief exception of a pair of two-point leads in the first four-plus minutes, Canisius trailed for the majority of the first half. Monmouth used a 13-0 run to push their lead to double-figures, and they would lead by as many as 13 points in the first half, which they did on two occasions.
The Golden Griffins got back to within two points by the break, and carried their momentum into the second half where took control of the game. With 17:59 to play, forward Jermaine Crumpton threw down a dunk to put the home side ahead by a point, and they wouldn’t relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
Canisius used 12 players over the course of Sunday’s game. Only six players recorded a point, but each of those players had at least nine point. Crumpton led the way, scoring a game-high 23 points to go along with five rebounds. Isaiah Reese posted 22 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, while forward Takal Molson added 18 points and six rebounds of his own.
Jibreel Faulkner came off the bench to post 12 points in 10 minutes of action.
The Hawks were led by guard Austin Tilghman, who had a team-high 22 points to go along with nine rebounds. He was 8-of-10 from the floor, and 8-of-9 from the free throw line in a losing effort. Louie Pillari came off the bench to post 18 points, on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor.
Big man Diago Quinn rounded out a trio of Monmouth players in double figures, adding 15 points in 26 minutes.
After Molson hit a pair of free throw out of the first media timeout of the game to give Canisius an early 11-9 lead, the Hawks went on their 13-0 run to take a double-digit lead. Tilghman answered Molson’s free throws with a layup, and the Hawks were off and rolling.
Pillari completed a three-point play with 11:12 to play in the first half, giving Monmouth a 22-11 lead. They would stretch their lead to 13 points on a pair of occasions shortly thereafter.
With their backs against the wall, the Golden Griffins continued to fight and made it a single possession game before the half was up. A three pointer from Reese in the closing minute brought the home side back to within two, at 45-43, and they had all of the momentum behind them as they entered the break.
After the teams traded baskets to open the second half, Crumpton’s dunk at the 17:59 mark put Canisius ahead for good, at 50-49. Molson would follow that up with three made free throws, and the Golden Griffins were on their way to another big conference victory.
The lead for Canisius would reach as many as 19 points in the second half, as a three pointer from Jonathan Sanks at the 5:18 mark pushed the lead for the home side to 85-66. They would cruise in the closing minutes, taking the 94-79 victory in front of their home crowd.
With the loss, Monmouth (5-12, 1-4) has now lost back-to-back games, and four of their past five outings. The Hawks will look to pick up their sixth win of the season on Friday night when they host the Iona Gaels.
The win was the second straight for Canisius (11-8, 5-1), and seventh over their last eight games. The Golden Griffins will look to stay atop the MAAC standings when they head on the road to take on the Manhattan Jaspers on Friday night.
– T. Bennett