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Canisius advances to quarterfinals of MAAC Men's Basketball Championship

Updated: Mar 14

By Colin Richey, Assistant Sports Editor

The men’s basketball team defeated Mount St. Mary’s on Tuesday 77–61 in the opening round of the 2024 Hercules Tires MAAC Basketball Championships in Atlantic City, New Jersey. 

The Griffs used an 8–0 run midway through the first half to create a 14-point gap between them and the Mountaineers, then went into halftime up 39–29. The Griffs held the advantage for the entirety of the game, leading Mount St. Mary’s by as many as 17 points, and never allowing a run of more than seven unanswered points against. Canisius held a double-digit lead for the entirety of the second half, securing the 16-point victory by the time the clock struck zero. 

In the Blue and Gold’s first tournament win since 2019, junior Tre Dinkins led Canisius in scoring with 24 points, adding three rebounds and four assists to his performance. Junior Frank Mitchell added eight points and a game-high 16 rebounds, setting the single-game postseason record for rebounds in program history. Sophomore Cam Palesse scored a career-high 19 points to go along with six rebounds and an assist. As a team, the Griffs shot 55% from the floor, including 28% from three-point range. 

After the game, Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon described what this game meant to the team, especially after battling against many season-ending injuries before the start of the tournament. “If you were to have a movie with this, people would say 'that’s impossible. That movie doesn’t even seem realistic.' But, it is realistic because these guys really fought and they stuck together. I’m really just proud of their perseverance, and their resiliency, and their togetherness.”

Palesse has taken advantage of the opportunity to step up while his teammates are injured, playing 30 or more minutes in nine of the last 10 games. “It makes me realize that this is a blessing, and you really have to take every day like it’s your last. And that’s really been our mentality.”

Dinkins explained that the team has had a limited number of players, “for a while now”, as the team continues to earn wins despite having just three players on the bench at times. “Most importantly is our preparation,” Dinkins explained, “everybody eating right and getting the right sleep, things like that. Everyone’s playing a lot of minutes now, so it’s next man up.”

Canisius advances to play top-ranked Quinnipiac on Wed. March 13 at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+.

Photo courtesy of Anthony Militello

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