Canisius dominated its rivalry with Vermont back in the days of the old North Atlantic Conference.
Saturday the Catamounts (18-9) defeated Canisius for only the second time in 18 tries, shooting 57.8 percent in an 87-79 victory in a BracketBusters game Saturday afternoon in Patrick Gymnasium in Burlington, Vt.
In Pittsburgh, St. Bonaventure (13-13, 6-7 Atlantic 10) watched a double-digit lead evaporate, but was able to stave off Duquesne (8-19, 1-12 A-10), 78-71, and move into the thick of the race for berths in the conference postseason tournament.
A game-high 19 points by Chris Johnson and Demitrius Conger led the Bonnies. Eric Mosley, a hot shooter lately for Bona, had 16.
Five Vermont players scored in double figures in the first meeting between the Catamounts and the Griffs since 1991.
Senior Harold Washington led Canisius (17-11) with a season-high 29 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Senior Alshwan Hymes had 15 points in 24 minutes off the bench. Junior Billy Barton had 12 points and five assists. Senior Isaac Sosa scored 11 points while junior Chris Manhertz grabbed 10 rebounds.
“We just didn’t guard them and they made shots,” Canisius coach Jim Baron said. “We did a poor job defensively plain and simple. We have to guard, and we have to have some guys make some plays on the defensive end of the floor. You can’t let good teams like that shoot better than 55 percent from the field and think you’re going to be able to win.”
Canisius held a 10-8 lead after a layup from Manhertz before the Catamounts heated up from behind the arc. Vermont scored eight straight points to go up, 16-10, and drained four of its first five three-pointers in the early going. The Griffs used three-pointers from Hymes on back-to-back possessions to take a 23-22 lead with just over seven minutes left in the half. The Griffs extended that to a 10-2 run, going up by 27-24 on a jumper from Washington. Vermont scored 11 straight points and closed the half on a 14-3 run to take a 38-30 lead into the locker room.
Vermont increased its lead to as many as 15 points in the second half.
Ethan O’Day left Vermont with 22 points while Clancy Rugg and Trey Blue each had 17 points. Vermont went 27 of 31 from the free-throw line on the day and shot 66.7 percent from the floor in the second half.
Canisius returns to the Koessler Athletic Center to wrap up the regular season next week. The Golden Griffins host Saint Peter’s at 7 p.m. on Thursday night.
St. Bonaventure broke away from a 59-all tie but never could get a comfortable lead against the Dukes, Marquise Simmons scored on a layup to give the Bonnies the lead for good with 6:48 to go, starting a six-point run. Duquesne, however, closed to 67-64, but could get no closer.
St. Bonaventure remained in 12th in the A-10 standings, a half-game out of the three-way tie for ninth. Only the top 12 teams in the conference standings qualify for the postseason tournament at Barclays Center in Brooklyn next month.