By: Aidan Joly, Editor-in-Chief
Despite a rally and playing even for much of the game, a slow start was not enough as Canisius men’s basketball fell to Cleveland State on Saturday afternoon on the road, 80-70.
In the end, it was the slow start that doomed the Griffs. Cleveland State scored the first 14 points of the game and led by as many as 19 during the first half as Cleveland State had multiple wide open looks from both close range as well as from three. The Vikings shot 7-10 from three in the first half and 18-27 in the first 20 minutes.
“You can’t turn the ball over and give a good team points. They were mistakes that just can’t be made, and we’ve gone over that,” Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. “The guys who are the more experienced guys have to be more assertive, have to be more aware, have to be more alert.”
However, the Griffs did pick it up in the later stages of the first half, ending it on a 15-7 run that made it an 11-point game at the break.
The second half was a bit more even as the Griffs hung around, keeping the deficit around 10 for much of the second half and did try to rally a little bit at the end, cutting the deficit to as little as six on two occasions in the waning minutes of the game.
“We took better care of the basketball so we got more shots at the basket, that’s number one. When you do that, there’s a little bit more pressure on their offense to score as opposed to turning it over and they get a dunk,” Witherspoon said.
Canisius was dominated by Cleveland State’s D’Moi Hodge, who had 27 points on the afternoon and was one of three Vikings in double figures. He shot 11-15 from the field and made a trio of threes throughout the afternoon.
“You got to make him do it a different way, and we talked about that. You can’t let him just get off threes and hope he misses. That’s not a good plan,” Witherspoon said.
Chris Greene had 15 for the Vikings, Deante Johnson had 10, while Torrey Patton had eight points and eight rebounds.
For the Griffs, they were led by 18 points from Siem Uijtendaal, 12 of them coming in the second half. Malek Green and Jacco Fritz had 15 points each as well. Fritz had 10 rebounds as well, his second double-double in as many games.
The Griffs drop to 0-4 with the loss, the first time they have had this mark since the 2007-08 season, when it started 0-8. The Griffs will have a good opportunity to turn it around on Monday night in the home opener, taking on Division III opponent Fredonia State at the Koessler Athletic Center. That will kick off a five-game homestand, the final two of which are conference games.