Xzavier Long had a career-high 17 points in the Griffs' win on Monday night. (Canisius Athletics/GoGriffs)
After an 0-4 start, Canisius men’s basketball got the confidence boost it needed, scoring 106 points in a record-breaking, 66-point rout of Division III Fredonia State in the home opener on Monday night, winning 106-40.
The Griffs scored the first 12 points of the night and never looked back and used a 20-0 run late in the first half to put the game very out of reach, leading by as many as 37 in the first half and leading by 33 at the break, 53-20. The second half was more of the same, with the same exact scoring numbers in the final 20 minutes.
It was an all-around performance for the Griffs as they had six players in double figures, including Malek Green and Xzavier Long, who both shot 7-8 from the field. Green had 18, the game’s high-scorer, while the freshman Long had a career-high 17, 14 of those points coming in the second half.
“Xzavier has got a motor and he plays hard. He’s just learning but he’s got, I’ll say it this way, some unusual ability for a freshman,” head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. “We’re just trying to bring him up to speed but he’s talented.”
As for the rest of the scoring, Akrum Ahemed had 16, Ahamadou Fofana and Jordan Henderson had 13 each, while Armon Harried chipped in 11. The Griffs also out-rebounded the Blue Devils 49-33 and won the turnover battle 29-12.
Monday night’s game also set several records. Most notably, the 66-point margin of victory is the largest in program history, which was previously set on December 21, 1949 with a 62-point, 93-31 win against Tiffin. In addition, the Griffs’ 16 three-pointers tied a building record at the Koessler Athletic Center, the team’s 106 points was the most for a single game in the Reggie Witherspoon era and the first time the team scored 100 points in a regular season game since a 104-84 win against Youngstown State on November 18, 2017.
The game also took a special meaning on the sidelines. Sean Smiley, who is in his first year at the helm of Fredonia, played for Reggie Witherspoon at Buffalo from 2005-10.
“I thought it would be further off before I was in that situation,” Witherspoon said. “As I was watching his team prepare for this game, I’m looking at how can I talk to him about helping him help his team and that’s a bad sort of conflict to be in, so it’s a struggle emotionally, because I want them to win but I don’t want them to beat us.”
Smiley added, “We knew it was coming, it was a lot of fun. Once you actually step on the floor and the ball goes up it’s kind of funny, just kind of looking around like ‘oh, I didn’t think this would happen.’ Once the game starts, you’re so focused on your guys and I’m sure he was focused on his guys, you don’t think about it. But we had a good conversation before and a good conversation after, just good overall.”
It will be a quick turnaround for the Griffs as they are back in action in less than 48 hours, with a pre-Thanksgiving home matinee against Coppin State on Wednesday at 2 p.m.