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  • Colin Richey

Men's basketball beats Niagara in Battle of the Bridge rematch

By Colin Richey, Assistant Sports Editor

The Griffs held Niagara to a season-low 59 points during their 69–59 Battle of the Bridge win on Friday night, with several milestones earned along the way.

Canisius jumped out to an early 12–0 lead and never looked back. Niagara’s first points of the game came 4:58 into the contest, but another three-pointer from the Griffs extended their lead to 14 five minutes later. A 13–1 run extended the team’s lead to 36–18, and they entered halftime with a 39–25 lead. In the second half, Canisius extended their lead by as many as 19 points, but Niagara was able to claw back within three. Sophomore Devean Williams hit a three-pointer to extinguish any hopes of a Niagara comeback as the Griffs closed out the game on top, winning 69–59.

Williams matched a career high with 15 points, adding five rebounds, three assists and a steal. Junior Tre Dinkins scored a team-high 16 points, his fourth straight game with double-digit points and 14th out of the last 17 games. Thanks to his pair of three-pointers, Dinkins now ranks 10th all-time in single-season threes for the program, currently with 72. 

Junior Frank Mitchell grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, his 16th game this season with double-digit boards. Junior TJ Gadsden and sophomore Cam Palesse each contributed 12 points in the win. As a team, the Griffs shot 46.6% from the field and 43.8% from three-point range. This was head coach Reggie Witherspoon’s 105th career victory with Canisius, moving into fourth on the school’s all-time coaching wins list.

Despite averaging 75.5 points per game against MAAC opponents, Niagara was held to a season-low 59 in their loss. When asked about the defensive effort, Mitchell pointed to the accountability among his teammates, stating, “If one guy gets beat, another guy is there to help. We really locked into our defensive principles and got the job done.”

Regarding his career day, Williams credited his teammates and coaches for the success. “My coaches kept telling me to shoot the ball,” he explained, shooting 42.9% from the field and 50% from three-point range.

Despite several losing streaks this season, Mitchell credits coach Witherspoon’s ability to stay positive and encouraging to help turn the team around. “Spoon is a great role model. He keeps us accountable but also gives us confidence on and off the court. He teaches us about life, and he really implements certain factors into our lives that we can translate onto the court,” said Mitchell. “He makes us believe in one another. Even when we lost a few games, he stayed confident and energetic through all those games, and I think for all our success we have coach Reggie to thank.”

The Griffs host their next two games, playing Mount St. Mary’s on Fri. March 1 at 7 p.m. and Rider on Sun. March 3 at 1 p.m. at the Koessler Athletic Center.

Photo courtesy of Chloe Breen

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