By Maggie Tifft, Contributor
The Canisius women’s basketball team is closing up their preseason play and, with a record of 3–3, looks to start MAAC play with a strong presence and gritty attitude.
The Canisius women’s basketball team defeated Little Three Rival St. Bonaventure 63–56 on Nov. 30. Senior transfer Mackenzie Amalia put up a total of 20 points against the Bonnies, a season high. Players like sophomore Sisi Eleko and Athina Lexa played significant minutes and helped push the Griffs over the edge to secure the win.
Their next game against Binghamton this Friday at 6 p.m. concludes what has been a powerful preseason showing for the Griffs and will fuel the team for their first week MAAC matchups.
“Energy is contagious,” says Sahar Nusseibeh, head coach of the basketball team. She believes that when everyone is buying into the culture and creating a positive atmosphere, that is when they see the most individual and team success.
To the team, MAAC play is the fuel to their fire. Taking on rivals and showcasing their talents to the league is something they take pride in. Being ranked ninth in the preseason poll was a shock to coach Nusseibeh and the team, but it only pushed them to better their skills and work harder.
“I am so excited for MAAC play. I think every game we’re finding our rhythm a little bit better and better. We want to protect the fist, and our team is the fist: five fingers coming together that are really really strong and hard to break apart,” says Nesseibeh.
The team’s mantra “Protect the Fist” has created a family-like bond amongst the young women and has created a culture deeply embedded amongst everyone, whether they’re on the court or the sidelines.
What Nusseibeh is most excited about is the Niagra matchup. Being that Niagara University is Canisius’s biggest rival, the game is more than likely to be intense. The Purple Eagles were also ranked first in the preseason poll. Speaking with Nusseibeh, even the new players and transfers felt the competitive energy against the two teams this summer. Seeing that tension and competitiveness grow amongst the new players already, before the season even began, was something that excited Nusseibeh.
“The special and unique thing about this year’s team, which requires a lot of maturity and selflessness, is that they’re all embracing their role and whatever it takes to be successful. If we can maintain that throughout January and February, we’re going to be in great shape,” said Nusseibeh when asked what the season looks like for her and her team and what she believes will get her team a successful MAAC season.
To see Nusseibeh and the Canisius women’s basketball team close out the end of their preseason, tune into ESPN+ on Friday, December 8 at 6 p.m. as they take on the SUNY Binghamton Bearcats in Binghamton, New York.