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  • Colin Richey

Men's basketball splits conference games to open MAAC play

By Colin Richey, Assistant Sports Editor

The Canisius men’s basketball team defeated Quinnipiac 93–73 on Friday and fell to Saint Peter’s 54–52 on Sunday, but once again found their rhythm with an 87–80 win on Wednesday against Robert Morris.

The Griffs dominated MAAC rival Quinnipiac, defeating one of the highest-scoring teams in the MAAC. An 8–1 run late in the first half put Canisius up 35–26. They extended their lead, heading into halftime up 47–33. The Griffs pulled away even further with a 13–5 run to open the second half, ultimately leading to the 93–73 victory.

The team’s 93 points scored are the most for the program in a MAAC regular season game since January of 2020. Junior Tre Dinkins led the team with a career-high 21 points, with senior Siem Uijtendaal adding a season-high 20 points and a team-high six rebounds. Uijtendaal has now recorded double-digit points in seven straight games.

Uijtendaal described the offensive efficiency against Quinnipiac, saying the team was successful in “pushing the ball in transition, advancing the ball up to the wing [and] making sure we’re trying to play in transition because we are good at it. We’ve got a lot of shooters trying to find the open man fast and get set up fast, before the defense can set up.”

Canisius was unable to tie the game late in the second half, losing to conference opponent Saint Peter’s 54–52. The Griffs took a 19–10 lead with 6:16 remaining in the first half and went into halftime with a 25–18 lead. Saint Peter’s mounted their comeback in the second half on a 15–0 run to take a 45–39 lead.

The Peacocks drilled two free-throws with 58 seconds left in the game, giving them a 54–49 lead. Dinkins nailed a three-pointer 10 seconds later to cut the lead down to two. Canisius would get the ball back with a chance to win, or at the very least tie. Dinkins missed a contested jump shot, but senior Bryce Okpoh was able to grab the rebound. His shot with three seconds left hit the rim but never went in the basket.

Junior Frank Mitchell led the team with 16 points, while also recording a team-high nine rebounds. As a team, the Griffs shot just .353 from the field, and .450 from the free-throw line.

Although it wasn’t a conference game, the Griffs got back on track with an 87–80 win over Robert Morris to improve to 6–4 on the season. Fueled by a 9–2 run, Canisius was up 37–29 with just under four minutes remaining in the first half. A three-pointer by Uijtendaal extended the lead going into halftime. A 10–4 run to open the second half put the game out of reach for Robert Morris, trailing 52–39. A late comeback attempt cut the lead to five, but four foul shots from Canisius sealed the win in front of the home crowd.

Uijtendaal scored a season-high 24 points, while Mitchell recorded his league-leading fifth double-double of the season (18 points and 12 rebounds). The win will go down as head coach Reggie Witherspoon’s 100th win with the program, the first Canisius coach to reach the milestone since Mike MacDonald in the 2005–06 season.

Following the loss, Uijtendaal described the team’s mindset heading into the game against Robert Morris: “Everybody was fired up. We feel like we’re supposed to win every game. We were just confident as a team. We feel like we can win every game we play, so when we lose a game, everyone’s upset, but it’s more about the next win. We’ve got to get that next win so we don’t lose two in a row.”

The Griffs travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to face Pitt on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 6 p.m, followed by a 13-day rest before their next matchup.

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