Despite a strong second half, Canisius drops season opener to Youngstown State.
By: Colton Pankiewicz
Canisius started their night donating a scholarship in the name of Aaron Salter Jr., who was the security guard that lost his life along with 9 others in the Tops shooting on the east side of Buffalo in May. Salter was an alum of Canisius.
After tip-off the Griffs and Penguins went back and forth with leads for the first ten minutes of the game and with over nine minutes left in the first half the Griffs’ were up 32-25. That seven point lead would be Canisius’ largest lead of the night and in the last nine minutes of the half the Penguins flipped a switch, going on a 33-3 run highlighted by two consecutive steals and easy layups from ex-Griff Malek Green.
Coming out of halftime down 23 the Griffs fought back against a much more physical team. Despite being outscored 62-24 in the paint, Canisius managed to gain some momentum outscoring Youngstown State 46-34 in the second half. Much of the effort came from graduate student Jamir Moultrie who scored 19 off the bench draining five of his eight attempts from behind the arc. Moultrie’s 19 points tied redshirt-freshman Tahj Staveskie’s 19 for a team high. Three other Griffs scored in the double-digits with sophomore Tre Dinkins scoring 14, junior Bryce Okpoh dropping 12 in his Canisius debut, and graduate student Jordan Henderson finishing with 11.
Youngstown State’s Malek Green who played for Canisius the last two seasons had a homecoming to remember. The senior who took home the sixth man of the year award for the MAAC last year finished with a double-double scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 boards. Green finished with a fourth of his team's total rebounds as the Penguins out-rebounded the Griffs 48-26. This loss makes the Griffs record 6-2 all time vs the Penguins going back to 1941.
"We came out of the gates flying, but playing on emotion and adrenaline can only get you so far. When you play a team like Youngstown State, you need to stay within your system, or they'll expose you defensively. We had a few defensive breakdowns and we let it affect us at the other end of the floor and that put us in a pretty big hole," said seventh year head coach Reggie Witherspoon.
The Griffs, now 0-1, look ahead to Saturday where they’ll play against rival St. Bonaventure in their second of a four game homestand to start the season. The Bonnies are coming off a 76-48 victory against Alfred University and sit 1-0 on the young season. This is a possible revenge game for the blue and gold as they lost to St. Bonaventure on the road last year 69-60 after leading 31-26 going into the half.