By Kevin Sweeney
Today’s matchup between Canisius and Iona featured two teams trending in opposite directions. There was no team in the MAAC hotter than the Golden Griffins, winners of 7 straight and 9 out of 10. On the other hand, the Gaels had lost 4 of 5, including a blowout defeat at the hands of Monmouth Friday night.
For the first couple minutes, it looked like more of the same. Canisius raced out of the gate with a 13-2 run to silence the Hynes Center crowd. After that, it was a whole different story.
The Gaels dominated play from then on, earning a 98-75 victory behind some very hot shooting. Iona drained a ridiculous 15-25 from downtown, good for 60%.
After the slow start, the Gaels didn’t seem to feel the pressure of potentially facing another loss. Instead, they seemed to finally have fun on the court and got back to playing the exciting, uptempo style the Gaels have become synonymous with under Tim Cluess. Redshirt sophomore Schadrac Casimir finally showed some of the explosiveness and dynamic play-making ability that made him the 2014-15 MAAC Freshman of the Year, something he had lacked since coming off a pair of hip injuries that cost him most of last season. Casimir posted 27 points behind a sizzling 7-9 from beyond the arc. It was Casimir that started the turnaround for the Gaels, draining three triples in the span of less than 3 minutes to quickly cut a double-digit hole to just a 2 point deficit halfway through the first half.
“I got off to a hot start, made my first two.” Casimir said, per A Daly Dose of Hoops/Twitter. “When I made my third one, my confidence went through the roof.”
Those triples were the start of an extended 39-10 run that gave the Gaels a commanding 48-29 lead. However, the Golden Griffins were able to get back some of the momentum as the half drew to a close, pulling back within 13 to end the half on a three by Kassius Robertson in the closing seconds of the half.
The Gaels never really did let up on the Griffins. For most of the second half, the result was never in doubt, as the Iona offense continued to click on all cylinders and Canisius just didn’t look like the team that had just won 7 straight. Iona led by double digits the entire second half, and extended their lead to as much as 23.
Casimir’s 27 points led the charge for the Gaels, while center Jordan Washington had 20 points and point guard Ricky McGill had 14 points and 14 assists.
Jermaine Crumpton posted 21 points for Canisius. Robertson added 15 for the 10-6 (3-2 MAAC) Golden Griffins.
For Iona (10-7, 3-3 MAAC), it’s certainly a good time to be getting hot. Their offense looked dangerous today, and that was without Deyshonne Much, who recently returned to the team after leaving briefly for personal reasons. Senior Jon Severe also was very limited due to an ankle injury suffered earlier this season. The Gaels will be back in action Saturday at Quinnipiac.
Canisius will look to rebound from today’s tough loss with another tough road test on Tuesday against Fairfield.