On a night when second-leading scorer Harold Washington was out of sorts with a foot injury, Isaac Sosa increased his offensive production for Canisius College.
The senior transfer from Central Florida entered Thursday night’s game against Alcorn State averaging 10.4 points but had that many midway through the first half as the Braves did little to disrupt his offensive rhythm. Sosa finished with a team-high 21 points to help the Golden Griffins to an 87-74 victory in front of 1,388 at the Koessler Center.
Canisius coach Jim Baron said Washington woke up Thursday morning with a sore heel, but didn’t know when the senior guard suffered the injury. Washington will be evaluated again today but Baron doesn’t believe the injury is serious enough to keep him out of Sunday’s game at Detroit.
On Thursday, Washington didn’t attempt a shot in 20 minutes but Canisius (9-3) had more than enough offense to go around.
“He works very hard to prepare himself and our guys get him the ball,” Canisius coach Jim Baron said of Sosa. “Billy [Baron] does a great job [as does] Reggie [Groves]. Guys get him the ball, he’s coming off of screens, especially in transition. We really get the ball down early in transition and we want to score as quickly as possible.”
It didn’t matter where he spotted up, Sosa was prepared to let fly. He hit 8 of 12 overall — including 5 of 9 from three-point range — as the Golden Griffins inflicted extensive damage from beyond the arc.
“I was being aggressive and like Coach said this is a very unselfish team,” said Sosa, who has knocked down 29 three-point field goals in December. “My job is to find the open spot and my teammates do their job to try and find me open.”
Billy Baron, Canisius’ leading scorer, finished with 19 points and was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line. Jordan Heath shot 5 of 6 from the floor and added 14 points, and Chris Manhertz had 11 points and a game-high eight boards.
It was Sosa, who is shooting 43.9 percent from three-point range, who established the game’s tempo early by scoring 16 points in the first half and making 4-of-6 three-pointers.
“Isaac is very important to our team because if we want to get to where we want to go and accomplish our goals, he’s got to be shooting the ball the way he’s been shooting it the last four games,” Billy Baron said. “It’s huge when you have a guy hitting shots like that because the driving lanes open and a lot of other things open up and it’s important that we keep him going and keep his confidence up.”
“You have to make him drive,” Alcorn State coach Luther Riley said of Sosa. “He’s got a mid-range game as well and he took advantage of us.”
Said Marquiz Baker, the Braves’ leading scorer: “He came out just firing, I didn’t think he was that good. He’s probably the best shooter I’ve played against since I’ve played ball here in Division I. … He was just feeling it. He shot it pure.”
The Braves are only 2-12 but they played their first nine games without Baker, who had a foot injury. Baker finished with a game-high 30 points.
Canisius rallied from an 18-12 deficit to take a 28-27 lead on a Jordan Heath free throw and expanded the advantage with a 13-2 run capped by Sosa’s NBA range three-pointer. Baron made three free throws to give the Griffs a 44-32 halftime lead. Canisius led by as many as 26 points in the second half.
UB in action tonight
The University at Buffalo men (4-8) return after a week-long break, hosting Division II Notre Dame College of Ohio at 7 p.m. in Alumni Arena. The Bulls have been held to fewer than 60 points six times. Last season, they scored fewer than 60 points only four times.
Notre Dame College (2-7) is coming off a 77-66 loss at Cleveland State.