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Griffs fall to Monmouth for third straight loss

Akrum Ahemed scored 16 points, including 10 in the second half, in Sunday's loss to Monmouth. (Canisius Athletics/GoGriffs)

Despite playing better in the second half, the Griffs were not able to recover from a lackluster first 20 minutes, falling to Monmouth 79-65 on Sunday afternoon at the Koessler Athletic Center. It was the team’s third straight loss.

The Griffs were competitive in the first few minutes but trailed 16-11 six minutes into the game. Things went south from there. Monmouth went on a 19-0 run to up its lead to 24, the largest lead the Hawks had all game. They led by 21 at halftime on nearly 55% shooting.

“What’s difficult is, some guys you want to help with, but you can’t leave some people, so if their spacing is good they put you in some challenges,” Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon said.

The second half did get a bit better for the Griffs as they scored the first 10 points of the second half as part of a larger 17-2 run that got them to within eight points, which was one of two times during the second half that they got it down to as little as that.

“I think in the second half we came out with a lot of determination to get ourselves out of a hole. We were better in a lot of areas,” Witherspoon said. “You’re just grinding.”

Akrum Ahemed was a key part of the second half, scoring 10 points in the final 20 minutes, including hitting a pair of three-pointers on 3-4 shooting overall. He scored 16 points on the day, second-highest on the team.

“Our energy was a lot different… we played harder, we wanted to win. We didn’t really worry about mistakes, we just wanted it more than them,” Ahemed said.

Armon Harried led the Griffs with 20 points while Jordan Henderson had 13. The Griffs were also without Malek Green with an ankle injury as well as Ahamadou Fofana, who was out the whole weekend with a non-COVID illness.

The Griffs struggled with the length of Monmouth all game and it showed on the box score. The Hawks were led by Walker Miller, a 6-11 forward that transferred to the program from North Carolina for this season. He shot 7-11 from the field.

“The minute you relax, he takes advantage of you,” Witherspoon said.

George Papas, the second-leading scorer in the MAAC, finished with 19 points while Shavar Reynolds had 18.

“They have some older guys who are not just older, they’re skilled, talented, they play hard. Credit to them,” Witherspoon said.

The Griffs fall to 0-2 in league play for the second time in three years and to 2-7 overall. They have the first two league games behind them before a set of four non-conference games before they lead back to league play at the end of the month. Next, they will travel to take on Northern Kentucky in Highland Heights, Ky.

“Those guys have got to be of a mindset that they embrace that opportunity,” Witherspoon said. “If we can get that done, we might be onto something, but we’ve got to see today as a day where some guys understand how hard they have to go from here on out.”

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