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blog by Spencer Trotman  • 

Live by the three, die by the three—a long-range shootout between Canisius and Iona decided the game as the Golden Griffins won in thrilling fashion.

Billy Baron had a game-high 23 points leading Canisius over Iona 77-74 in front of a packed house at the Koessler Athletic Center.

Although Iona captured the last three meetings against the Griffs, Canisius didn’t hesitate to come out the gate firing. Early in the game, they pounded the ball inside to big man Chris Manhertz, but head coach Jim Baron’s game-plan quickly switched when Iona began playing zone defense.

“Me getting the ball opens up the floor for everybody else,” Manhertz said.

Everyone on Canisius was gunning threes, even center Jordan Heath who shot 1-2 from behind the arc. The game turned from a match-up dominated by big man to fast-break pull-up threes from both teams.

The non-stop three-ball was becoming so constant throughout the game, fans in the crowd were gasping and looking at each other in disbelief.

The game took a turn at the 4:30 mark in the second half. Score is tied at 70-70 when Baron hit a three and seemingly, as soon at the crowed cheered louder, there was more energy and intensity from the players on the court.

Coach Jim Baron said, “Finally, we got the crowd into it, it took us a while. These kids are playing their hearts out, that’s why we try to get the crowd to be our sixth man.”

Instead of throwing the ball down-low, Canisius began relying on the three to pull them ahead. They were taking deep threes early in the shot clock and gave Iona many chances for a comfortable lead. Things weren’t looking so good as Canisius trailed by two with two minutes left and Baron turned the ball over.

Iona turned the ball over directly after and Baron was able to take advantage. He took a chance—it could have went really good, or really bad. Still down by two, with 58 seconds left, Baron pulled up from three feet behind the arc—and got fouled. He made all three free-throws and from the point on, it turned into a fouling game for Iona.

Iona didn’t get a shot off as DaShawn Gomez turned the ball over with four seconds left, fouled Canisius, then had to depend on a half-court heave to win and missed.

Even though this was a high-powered offensive game, the Canisius defense deserves credit. In the final two minutes, they came with defensive stops that brought them to victory.

“That’s how we are going to win the MAAC championship, making stops like that,” Billy Baron said confidently. “Good teams win close games.”

Lately, the Golden Griffins have been competing in tight match-ups. As long at they find a way to dominate both sides of the court, the Griffs should be dangerous in the MAAC as March approaches. Remember, they have to use their strengths—the three-ball can’t always be your bread and butter.

(Header photo courtesy of Cody Osborne from Canisius vs. Manhattan—full gallery here).

TAGGED: billy baron, canisius griffins, iona gaels, jim baron, maac college basketball, momo jones

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