By Peter Neville, Contributor
Struggles against Niagara in recent years continued Tuesday night as the Griffs lost the first rendition of the Battle of the Bridge 65–55 on Tuesday night. This loss pushes them back to 6–5 in conference play and 11–9 overall.
Niagara came into the contest leading the country in forced turnovers per game. They forced a season high of 26 Canisius turnovers in the Griffs’ loss, giving head coach Sahar Nusseibeh much to think about before they meet again later in the season. “I liked our game plan,” said Nusseibeh. “I still believe in our game plan: I think the execution and the understanding of the game plan needs to be better.”
Despite the improvements that women’s basketball has shown this season, Canisius has failed to beat Niagara in their last five games under Nusseibeh, proving to be a thorn in the side of the Griffs the past three seasons. “Progress is never linear,” said Nusseibeh. “We are progressing, but I would say today that we probably took a little bit of a step back in terms of our approach and mentality.”
Coach Nusseibeh believes that the Griffs can also use this game as an opportunity to “pivot” and get back on track. “We have to make that decision collectively. It can't be me or Brooklyn [Thrash] or Sisi [Eleko] making that decision — it's gotta be a collective decision of all 14 players.”
Much as she has all season, sophomore Sisi Eleko starred once again for the Griffs despite the loss, putting up 12 points and 9 rebounds and narrowly missing out on her 11th double-double of the season. Fellow sophomore Brooklyn Thrash led scoring for the Griffs with 13 points, her highest-scoring game of the season and third highest in her collegiate career.
For the Purple Eagles, they were once again led by the Parker twins, Aaliyah and Angel, who, with 15 and 14 points, led the way for Niagara on the scoring front. As a team, Niagara tallied 14 steals from the Griffs, increasing their season total to 294, which still ranks #1 in the nation, just ahead of West Virginia in second place at 292.
Canisius’s next game takes place on Saturday at the Koessler Athletic Center, as they take on the Saint Peter’s Peacocks at 1 p.m for National Girls and Women in Sports Day. The Peacocks present a great opportunity for the Griffs to rebound after back-to-back losses to Fairfield and Niagara, as Saint Peter’s occupies the bottom of the MAAC, being only 2–7 in conference play at the end of January.