A bad first half that saw the Griffs down 20 at the break doomed men’s basketball as they fell to Iona at home on Thursday night by a final of 86-65.
Iona, the four-time defending league champions that have not done as well this year, played like the Iona of years past, shooting 65.5% from the field in the first half, including nearly 74% from inside the three-point arc, giving them a 42-22 lead at the break.
“It kind of buried our spirit because they had guys that could score so easily,” Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon said.
Iona jumped on the Griffs quickly, grabbing an early 9-2 lead and led by double digits less than seven minutes into the contest, behind the shooting of Isaiah Ross, who had 10 points in those first seven minutes and finished with 24, a game-high while Iona’s key scorers, such as league-leader EJ Crawford, stepped up. Crawford finished with 22, and Tajuan Agee finished with 16 for the Gaels. Isaiah Washington also had a triple double ending up with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.
Iona’s largest lead for the night ended up being 32, which happened with about five and a half minutes left in the game.
“We came out and we played hard. That’s what we talk about, the tougher team is going to win, the tougher team is going to make tough plays, the winning plays that help win games, and we made those today,” Iona acting head coach Tra Arnold said.
Iona’s frantic pace has been something that has been part of their game for years, and showed it on Thursday. It was something that the Griffs struggled immensely with and was a key factor of why they played as poorly as they did. The defense allowed Iona to shoot 64.3% for the game.
“Their pace was difficult for us. We had some matchup issues that presented some problems,” Witherspoon said. “I think at times we’ve struggled with it in the past, and today was an issue because it wasn’t just the pace, it was matchup issues as well.”
The game did get a bit interesting at one point as with 17:13 left in the second half, Iona’s Agee and Armon Harried got tied up at midcourt and some pushing and shoving occurred, but it was broken up before anything else could happen. Both players were assessed technical fouls in the mini-scuffle.
On offense, the Griffs only had three players in double figures, those being Jordan Henderson with 18, Majesty Brandon with 12 and Jalanni White with 10.
The loss, which was the most second-most lopsided for the Griffs this season puts them at 10-18 overall and 5-12 in conference play heading into Saturday afternoon’s game against St. Peter’s, still last place in the MAAC, with three games left in the regular season. The Peacocks currently sit a half-game out of first place in the league.
Witherspoon said, “We got to lock in right now for St. Peter’s, that’s what’s next. They’re a team that’s playing great and right now we got to turn our focus to them.”