- Colton Pankiewicz
Men’s and Women’s Basketball fizzles out in the MAAC Tournament
By: Colton Pankiewicz, Assistant Sports Editor
Losses to Mount St. Mary’s by both the Mens and Womens Basketball programs in the first round of the conference tournament marked the end of careers for notable Griffs Vannessa Garrelts and Jordan Henderson.
Canisius Women's Basketball kicked off the action, playing in the first game of the week against the Mountaineers, a team they were swept by in the regular season.
Despite that, the Griffs paced their opponents in the first half, playing their brand of basketball as 16 of their 22 points were three-pointers.
Coming out of the locker room tied at 22, Canisius failed to find their stroke until the 6:56 mark, when fifth year senior Vannessa Garrelts found her way to the basket for a layup.
Even with the Griffs efforts, they were unable to regain the lead following a five minute scoreless period of time over the third and fourth quarters. Sophomore Cheyenne Stubbs led the Griffs with 15 points but it wasn’t enough as Sahar Nusseibeh’s squad suffered their first opening round loss with her as head coach.
Following the loss, Vannessa Garrelts spoke at the podium reflecting on her basketball career as it came to an end, saying, “I have a lot of pride, my freshman and sophomore year I wouldn’t have been able to say that. I’ve had a lot of self growth, and I can truly say I left it all out on the court.”
Sophomore standout Cheyenne Stubbs praised Garrelts saying, “It’s been a pleasure, she's taught me a lot and I don’t think people understand her role, and how big it is. I’m gonna miss playing alongside her.”
Head Coach Sahar Nusseibeh finished the press conference both reflecting on Garrelts and the end of the season saying, “I thought we started off really confident, I thought the ball was moving really well. Going into halftime, you could call it tournament jitters and in the second half unfortunately we just didn't bring the fire. Vannessa was one of the best additions I could've asked for. I knew she was the leader we needed, and she didn’t have to change herself at all to be that leader.”
The men came out of the regular season winning five of their last six, and looked like they had gotten hot at the perfect time heading into the MAAC Tournament. They matched up in the first round of the tournament against the same Mount St. Mary’s team that swept them earlier in the season.
The Griffs came out strong through the first 15 minutes of action, holding a 14 point lead at one point. Canisius fought off a physical Mount St. Mary's team that finished the final five minutes of the half on an 11-4 run, as Reggie Witherspoon and his team headed into the locker room ahead 33-26.
Coming back from halftime, Canisius continued their attempt to stay afloat versus the first year MAAC opponent. At the 13:38 mark in the second half, Mountaineers freshman Dola Adebayo finished at the rim marking the first time the Mountaineers led since the 15:55 mark in the first half.
The Griffs continued their uphill battle in the second half, trailing at one point by a score of seven. The combination of the Griffs defense holding the Mountaineers to just two points in the last three minutes, and Jordan Henderson’s two clutch baskets in the last 60 seconds of regulation sent the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, both teams flipped flopped leads before the Griffs buzzer-beater attempt to send them to the second round fell short, as they lost by a single point, 67-66.
After a 20 point performance in what was his final game of a five year career at Canisius, Jordan Henderson looked back on his time as a Griff.
“Canisius made me grow up in many different ways, (I'm proud) of my work ethic and my growth vocally as a leader.”
Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon summed the season as a whole, saying, “We had growing pains early on in the season and we had some guys that were new to us that saw tremendous growth and some guys that were new to the experience of being depended on. There wasn’t a dry eye in that locker room and that's the foundation you need to build a program, it requires that level of commitment and love.”