Three Canisius players scored in double-figures, led by senior Malek Green and his game-high 22 points, but it was not enough for the Golden Griffins, as the Blue and Gold fell to Iona 72-65 Friday night in MAAC men’s basketball action at the Hynes Athletic Center in New Rochelle, N.Y.
 
Green came off the bench and recorded his 22 points after he went 10-for-19 from the field, and he also grabbed eight rebounds and matched a career-high four steals. Junior Jacco Fritz recorded his third double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds and senior Ahamadou Fofana chipped in 11 points and three assists.
 
Iona improved to 23-5 overall and 15-2 in MAAC play with the victory, while Canisius slipped to 8-20 overall and 4-13 in MAAC action with the loss.
 
GAME RECAP
A jumper by Green with 10:38 left before halftime cut Iona’s lead to 12-11, but the Gaels pulled away from the Griffs over the game’s next 5:58 on the power of an 18-4 run that made the score 30-15 in favor of the home team. Canisius answered, however, and trailed 33-25 at the intermission break after the Griffs outscored the Gaels by a 10-3 count over the final 3:12 of the opening frame. In that 10-3 spurt, Green and Fritz combined to score eight of Canisius’ points.
 
Canisius came out of the locker room after halftime and used a 10-1 run in the opening 2:54 of the second half to take a 35-34 lead with 17:06 left in the game, forcing Iona to take a 30-second timeout. In that run, Fofana scored seven-straight points for the Blue and Gold, and the Griffs took their first and only lead of the night thanks to a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Fritz. Out of the timeout, Iona responded with a 16-4 surge to push its lead back to 11 points at 50-39 with 13:00 left to play.
 
Iona held a double-digit lead until the 9:16 mark of the second half when Jordan Henderson hit a 3-point field goal from in front of the Griffs’ bench to make the score 57-50 in favor of the home team. A traditional three-point play by junior Akrum Ahemed got the Griffs with four at 57-53, and after an Iona score, junior Armon Harried slashed to the basket for a lay-up that made the score 59-55 in favor of Iona with 6:30 left to play. That would be as close as the Griffs would get the rest of the way however, as Iona scored the game’s next four points in the span of 45 seconds to give the Gaels a 63-55 advantage with 4:35 showing on the clock.
 
Iona guards Elijah Joiner and Tyson Jolly each scored 16 points and both players dished out seven assists in the win for the Gaels, who shot 50.9 percent from the field for the game, despite making just 7-of-23 tries from behind the 3-point arc. Osborn Shema came off the bench to score 11 points and record four blocked shots in the win for Iona, which ended the night with 10 blocks against the Griffs.
 
Canisius shot just 38.7 percent from the field and 18.8 percent (3-for-16) from 3-point land in the loss, with all three 3-pointers coming in the game’s second half. The Griffs held a 36-34 advantage on the glass, but Iona was able to turn 16 Canisius turnovers into 19 points.
 
Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon‘s Postgame Comments
“I thought this was a pretty intense game for both teams. Iona is a really good team, and that’s probably an understatement. On our end, I think in the first half, we have to find a way to convert shots around the basket. Iona is a terrific shot-blocking team – they had 10 tonight. In the second half, we had some loud turnovers. Again, when you’re playing a team of this caliber, you can’t do that, particularly when you shoot 3-for-16 from three. Those are things we have to improve on.”
 
“I think the turnovers really hurt us. That’s their style. They want to pressure you and turn you over. And when you do turn it over, it becomes a touchdown for them. It goes the other way quickly and they end up with easy shots that they just don’t miss. And when that starts, and the pressure heats up, we slowed down offensively. We were trying not to turn it over. Turnovers were a huge part of the game. Now, we were 3-for-10 from three in the second half, and that was actually a huge improvement over the first half where we didn’t make any. But the turnovers were the biggest part of the night for us, in my opinion.”
 
“We have been in a lot of close games, and it has been frustrating. But we look at areas of the game where we can try and get better. We knew that we were not going to be able to come in and dominate teams every day. We have to approach it with the mindset that we need to keep working to get better. I told the team after the game, we did some good things tonight. But until we can learn from the good things, and have fewer self-inflicted mistakes, we are not going to be able to make any headway. I thought our intensity level was strong throughout, but we didn’t always focus and play with the amount of poise you need to win games, especially against a team like Iona.”
 
GAME NOTES
• Friday was the 80th all-time meeting between these two schools. Iona has won seven straight meetings and now leads the series 47-33.
• The Griffs’ went 14-for-17 (82.4 percent) from the free-throw line in the loss, highlighted by Fritz’s 5-for-7 performance from the stripe.
• Green has now scored 20-or more points in a game four times this season and eight times in his career.
• The double-double effort for Fritz is the sixth of his career, which ranks second among active players on the Griffs’ roster (Green has seven career double-doubles).
• Fofana has now dished out multiple assists in 24 games this season.
 
UP NEXT
Canisius will close out the road portion of its 2021-22 regular-season schedule on Sunday, when the Griffs travel to play at Quinnipiac. Tip-off in Hamden, Conn., is set for 1 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN+.
 
For complete coverage of Canisius men’s basketball, please follow the Griffs on social media at @Griffs_MBB on Twitter and Instagram.




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