Griffs drop heartbreaker to Fairfield as part of two-loss week
By Aidan Joly, Editor-in-Chief
The Canisius men’s basketball team was seconds away from recording its first road win of the season, but a late basket from Fairfield forced overtime, where the Griffs eventually fell 80–76 on Monday night in Bridgeport, Conn.
The Griffs held a 72–70 lead heading into the final possession of the night with Ahamadou Fofana making a free throw following a big defensive stop, but he had missed one of them, allowing Fairfield to tie the game with a two. They did that as Taj Benning hit a running layup as the buzzer sounded in regulation to send the game to an extra session.
Canisius opened the scoring in overtime with a Xzavier Long corner three, but the Griffs only scored one point the rest of overtime, being out-scored 8–4 in the five-minute period. Down two with 13 seconds left, Jordan Henderson had a good look from the wing from three, but missed. Fairfield’s Jalen Leach hit a pair of free throws to put the game on ice for the Stags as the Griffs fell to 4–11 in league play and 8–18 overall on the season, including an 0–14 mark on the road. Fairfield went 17–18 from the free-throw line, while the Griffs went 16–23.
It was the Griffs’ second straight heartbreaking loss, as it fell on the road to Marist 71–70 on Saturday.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team that’s had more rebounds and less turnovers than their opponents two games in a row and come up short like that,” Griffs head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. “Our effort picked up as the game went on, but unfortunately we will all go to sleep tonight being six seconds away from being able to salt this one away. Certainly, a lot of good things to take away, but at the end of the day we did not get it done.”
The Griffs won the rebounding battle for the second straight game, 32–27, after winning it on Monday, 39–37. They also had 12 turnovers to Fairfield’s 14, after having seven against Marist to the Red Foxes’ nine.
Malek Green led the Griffs on Monday with 19 points in just 23 minutes and shot a very efficient 8–10 from the field, including a shot that gave the Griffs a 71–70 lead with 24 seconds left in regulation. Henderson and Long had 15 each as well. However, the Griffs finished just 4–17 from three-point range.
Following the two losses, the Griffs are now in last place in the MAAC, two full games out of 10th place heading into the weekend and with five games left in the regular season. The final stretch begins Saturday afternoon with a home game against Niagara at 1 p.m.
“I said to the guys in the locker room that this is supposed to hurt. If you’re not having any pain after this one, that means we’re not close enough to taste it,” Witherspoon said. “But we are getting better. We need to use this pain as fertilizer for progress.”