Dominant fourth quarter powers Griffs to victory against Detroit Mercy
Dani Haskell tallied a game-high 24 points for the Griffs in Tuesday night's win. (Adam Gorski/The Griffin)
By Adam Gorski, Sports Layout Editor
Shaky fourth quarters have been a theme in the Canisius women’s basketball team’s early season, and it has cost and nearly cost them victories.
On Tuesday night, the opposite occurred: the Griffs’ dominant performance in the final frame secured them a hard fought win.
Canisius outscored Detroit Mercy 20-11 and held the Titans to just two field goals in the fourth quarter en route to a 64-55 victory, marking their second straight win at home.
“I think previously, we had a lot of tired bodies, which led to giving up a lot of field goals [in the fourth quarter],” Griffs head coach Sahar Nusseibeh said. “We kind of switched our mindset as a staff and we were really big and intentional in the first three getting those who we knew we would need down the stretch some rest … If you know you’ve got ten minutes and you’ve got to buckle down for them, you’ve got an off day the next day: buckle down, go finish it.”
After leading 30-25 at halftime, the Griffs (2-3) faltered coming out of the locker room for the second half, turning the ball over multiple times and giving up an 11-0 run to the Titans (0-5), making it 36-30 with 6:48 to play in the third quarter before a Canisius timeout.
In the huddle, the message was clear: Nusseibeh and her staff thought their team was not playing to what they were capable of. From there, things changed quickly as the Griffs clawed back to tie the game at 44 a piece entering the fourth quarter, and they would outscore the Titans 34-19 total following the timeout.
“We as a staff believe our young women are capable of a lot, and we weren’t living out that standard,” Nusseibeh said. “It was a lot of effort based things and focus based things … I think our players really took that to heart because they know they’re capable of that standard, and I think that’s what the response was.”
Leading the way for Canisius on the night was Dani Haskell, who finished the night with a game-high 24 points. The sophomore started the game hot from deep, knocking down four of her first five 3-point attempts, including a pair of back-to-back treys that gave the Griffs a 28-20 lead midway through the second quarter. As a team, Canisius shot 42.3% from three.
Her clutch free throws as the game winded down helped fend off the Titans, as she finished 9-for-10 at the charity stripe.
“I feel like when I’m on, I can tell I’m on,” Haskell said. “It’s never really about the points to me, as long as I play my game, and a lot of it comes from my teammates … I feel like it’s just the vibes from the team that make everyone play their game.”
The shot that sealed it, however, did not come from the team’s leading scorer in Haskell, it came from freshman Cheyenne Stubbs.
With the Griffs holding a 59-52 lead with just under a minute to play, fellow freshman Lydia Gattozzi found Stubbs in the corner as the shot clock was winding down, and she swished a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to put the game on ice.
It was three of Stubbs’ 13 points, almost doubling her season total of seven entering Tuesday’s contest, and capped off a night where the rookie exuded confidence shooting the ball, finishing 3-for-4 from deep.
“I was just like, ‘I’m gonna knock this down,’ just a clutch mindset,” Stubbs said of her dagger 3-pointer. “[The coaching staff] tell me just to keep going, when I get in to make the most of my time and they just keep pushing me, and I think that really helps.”
Erika Joseph tallied 10 of her 12 points in the second half, highlighting a strong final two quarters for the senior. Brandi Washington and Monique Pruitt both had 16 to lead the Titans.
Next up, the Griffs look to make it three straight wins at home as they welcome Robert Morris for a 7 p.m. tipoff on Saturday. As the home victories begin to pile up, Nusseibeh hopes it’s the start of something special at the Koessler Athletic Center.
“Our intention is to win where we pack the KAC,” she said. “The saying, ‘if you build it, they will come,’ … that’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to win some games at home where we take pride in having home court advantage, and it becomes a true advantage when more and more people want to come watch us win.”