Canisius College will remember Tiahana Mills’ Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference debut for years to come.
Mills banked in a half-court heave that beat the buzzer to seal a Golden Griffins comeback in a thrilling 65-62 victory Friday afternoon against Siena in front of a Kids Day crowd of 2,196 in the Koessler Center.
Junior Jamie Ruttle hit two free throws with 16 seconds left to put Canisius up, 62-60, then Siena’s Kanika Cummings scored a layup with three seconds remaining to tie the game at 62.
Ruttle inbounded the ball to Mills, who took three dribbles, crossed over on her fourth, and unspooled the shot a step behind the mid-court line. The buzzer sounded as the shot was in the air, with the ball banking off the glass for the first Canisius buzzer-beater since Heather Fiore at St. Bonaventure on Jan. 24, 1995.
“Knowing there wasn’t much time left, I was just trying to get a shot off,” Mills said. “Jamie got the ball to me, I was able to cross over and got it off. I felt it was online and luckily it went in.”
Canisius improved to 9-2 in its last 11 Kids Day games in the KAC and won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Seniors Ashley Durham and Ashley Wilkes each scored 16 points for the Griffs. Mills had 12 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals in 27 minutes.
Canisius (4-8, 1-0) trailed, 58-52, with just over two minutes left before scoring nine unanswered points to take a 61-58 lead and climb back into the game.
“Conference games are gutty, and you rarely see teams win going away,” Canisius coach Terry Zeh said. “Teams make runs, and we were able to make one at the end of the game. Tiahana showed a great presence of mind to get that shot off.”
Also on Friday, Lauren Gatto scored a career-high 22 points and was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line, but it wasn’t enough as Niagara University fell to Iona, 76-65, at the Gallagher Center.
Damika Martinez scored a game-high 29 points for Iona, who evened its record at 6-6 overall and 1-0 in MAAC play while the Purple Eagles fell to 5-7 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
Elsewhere, the University at Buffalo (2-10) is set for a 1 p.m., tipoff this afternoon at Cornell (6-6), while St. Bonaventure (7-7) closes out its non-league schedule at 3 p.m. at Green Bay (9-2).