Apparently the 21-point loss to Fairfield was just the jolt Canisius College needed.
The Golden Griffins used a quick start to wobble Marist, then after giving up a 16-point lead, held on to beat the Red Foxes, 73-64, on Saturday night before 1,401 at the Koessler Center. Canisius (10-5, 3-1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) quickly erased the unpleasant memory of Thursday’s 66-45 loss to Fairfield, while ending a two-game losing streak.
By following the lead of point guard Billy Baron, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half, Canisius shot 56 percent in the opening 20 minutes to build a 36-24 lead. Then senior shooting guard Isaac Sosa took over the offense and scored 15 of his team-high 22 points in the second half. Sosa, a transfer from Central Florida, enjoyed a stretch when he connected on four consecutive three-pointers that keyed a run that saw Canisius’ lead expand to 50-34 with 15:42 left in the game.
But it was Baron, who also finished with 10 assists for his second career double-double, who hit the first two three-pointers of the game while Sosa added the other in a 9-0 start.
“We haven’t really come out in any game this year – maybe one or two – where we had the first punch,” Baron said. “We’ve kind of taken the first punch and it was good to start off well and help my teammates and boost our momentum.”
While the entire team shot poorly against Fairfield, Sosa’s line (0-for-8) perhaps stood out the most considering he was one of the top 15 three-pointers in the country. He showed why in the second half.
“I was just ready,” said Sosa, who was 5 of 11 from long range. “When I hit my first two in the second half I got it going. Billy found me wide open and he recognizes in those times and we took advantage of it.”
It’s good that he has a short memory. The Fairfield game happened many moons ago to Sosa.
“I let that go and to be honest I didn’t worry about it,” he said. “It wasn’t like any of us had a good game, we really struggled so I was just being myself. Being aggressive and letting my shots fly.”
Still, it was a game that concerned Canisius coach Jim Baron. After losing back-to-back games for the first time this season, Baron not only feared his team wasn’t taking success well but also fatigue. Saturday was the team’s fourth game since Dec. 27.
“You come off playing a tough Fairfield team and then all of the sudden we have to bounce back and play a Marist team that we beat (Dec. 9) and it’s tough beating a team twice,” he said. “It’s new ground for our kids coming into these situations and that’s why I’m cautiously optimistic as we move forward.”
Billy Baron’s rest is a major concern. He’s asked to do a lot for the Golden Griffins and teams are getting more and more physical with him. Marist started a pair of forwards in Manny Thomas (6-5) and Chavaughn Lewis (6-5) in the backcourt to body Baron, who was 0-for-7 in the second half.
Senior guard Alshwan Hymes has been suspended indefinitely from the team for a violation of team rules, the school announced during the game. According to a source Hymes got into an argument with an assistant coach on Saturday. Hymes is averaging 6.3 points this season, but his playing time had been limited over the last five games. He played just three minutes against Fairfield Thursday.
For more on this game, go to the Campus Watch blog at buffalonews.com.