In this wild men’s basketball season, it still may be too early to write off any of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference contenders even with the games dwindling off the schedule.
Canisius hopes that’s the case after it lost ground in its quest for the MAAC top seed Thursday night in Baltimore as the Golden Griffins dropped a 68-64 decision to Loyola in a battle of second-place teams at Reitz Arena.
Canisius (16-10, 9-6) trailed by two in the closing seconds and junior star guard Billy Baron’s attempt at a go-ahead three-pointer clanked long off the back iron with the Greyhounds (18-9, 10-5) grabbing the rebound with 4.8 seconds left. Anthony Winbush’s two free throws provided the final margin.
With the loss, Canisius failed to inch within a half game of MAAC leader Niagara, while the defending conference champion Greyhounds moved into position to potentially tie the Purple Eagles (14-11, 10-4) atop the standings, pending Niagara’s game tonight at Marist (7-18, 4-10).
Baron’s three with 46 seconds left pulled the Griffs within 66-64. After a Loyola miss with 15 seconds left, Canisius had a shot at either trying to force overtime or go for the win. The Griffs opted for the latter, the miss capping a poor-shooting day for them. Canisius shot 21 for 48 overall, including 6 for 21 from beyond the arc.
Jordan Heath had 15 points to lead the Griffs, while Baron and Chris Manhertz each finished with 14. Canisius visits Saint Peter’s on Saturday.
Niagara enters tonight’s game on a three-game losing streak (8 p.m., Radio 1520, ESPN3.com). Still, the Purple Eagles haven’t been blown out during the span in which they’ve played two of those games without injured leading scorer Antoine Mason (ankle). Mason is second in the MAAC and 29th in the nation, averaging 18.9 points per game.
The Niagara-Marist game caps a women’s-men’s doubleheader at McCann Arena that begins with the Purple Eagles (12-11, 7-5) facing defending MAAC women’s champion Marist (17-6, 12-0) at 5 p.m. (ESPNU).
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Canisius played a scrappy game at Fairfield but cold shooting during the final 10-plus minutes proved to be too much to overcome in a 56-50 loss at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn.
Canisius made just two shots during the final 10:05, capping a second half in which it shot just 6 for 25. Still, the Griffs (9-15, 6-7) had a 47-44 lead after a pair of Ashley Durham (17 points) free throws with 5:03 left.
Jamie Ruttle missed a game-tying three-point try with 19 seconds left.
SWIMMING: Day One is in the books for the MAAC Championships at the Flickinger Center. Spencer Bray posted the highest finish of the local colleges as he took second in the 500 free for Canisius in a school record 4:32.32. Canisius is in third place with 151.5 points. Marist leads with 191. Niagara is ninth with 57 points.
In the women’s meet, Canisius stands third with 135 points. Niagara is tied for seventh with 89 points.
Clare Battaglia of Canisius took fourth in the 200 IM in a school record 2:08.46. That was one of five school marks set by the Griffs’ women.
Niagara’s Aubrey Kettrick finished fifth in the 50 free (24.27).
The meet resumes today at 10 a.m.