(Austin James puts a punctuation mark on the Canisius win/Photo: Larry Scheur)
Canisius 84, Park 60
After Park earned a big 30-point win over Timon last week, there was no doubt left as to which team in WNY was number one. But less than a week later came the rematch with the defending Manhattan Cup champions from Canisius, who the Pioneers had handled once already this season. After a dominating performance by the Crusaders over Park on their home court put them into sole possession of first place in the Monsignor Martin Association standings, it looks as if there could be a new number one once again. Following a close opening frame, began to build a lead heading toward halftime. Austin James and Nick MacDonald combined for consecutive treys to end the half, with MacDonald's being a swish launched from nearly half court. A 16-point halftime lead reached as many as 23 points in the third, before Park mounted a rally that cut the Canisius advantage to just seven points. It would be the closest the Pioneers would get, as the Crusaders allowed just six points in the final stanza to earn the victory going away. Canisius' James scored 13 of his game-high 28 points in the second quarter, while Ryan Bradley added 20 points in the game to lead five Crusaders in double figures.
Park 15 - 14 - 25 - 6 = 60
Canisius 18 - 27 - 18 - 21 = 84
Canisius: Austin James 28, Ryan Bradley 20, Nick MacDonald 12, Jayce Johnson 10, Brendan Trapper 10, Jon Evans 2, Connor McCaffrey 2
Park: Dan Scott 15, Noah Hutchins 13, Brandon Smith 12, Julian Eziukwu 11, Quentin Nnagbo 7, Jaylen Stewart 2
Canisius: 18-2, 9-1 / Next game at Aquinas Thursday, February 8th
Park: 15-5, 8-2 / Next game vs. Health Sciences Thursday, February 8th
Player of the Game
Austin James - Canisius
Unsung Hero of the Game
Nick MacDonald - Canisius
Canisius: Ryan Bradley 15 rebounds / Brendan Trapper 12 rebounds
Canisius closed the half on an 11-4 run to take a 45-29 lead at the break. Park got within seven with an 18-6 surge in the third quarter. Canisius ended the game with a 23-6 push.
Canisius (8): Nick MacDonald (3), Austin James (3), Brendan Trapper (2)
Park (3): Brandon Smith (2), Dan Scott
Noah Hutchins knifed through the defense to finish with two hands for Park. Austin James capped the Crusaders victory in the fourth quarter with a one-handed slam.
Kyle Husband - Canisius
On the difference between the two meetings vs. Park
I think we had a lot more consistent effort throughout the game, but we stayed true to a lot of principles on the defensive end - I think it started there.
On a solid shooting performance
Obviously we made some shots. Austin got going early, which opens things up.
We definitely had a lot of focus on it and talked about it quite a bit. It clearly showed.
On Jayce Johnson's defense
He's one of the best defensive players in the area and he showed that tonight.
Rich Jacob - Park
We got our tails kicked
On the difference in the game
They were patient, executed, shot the heck out of it, and beat us up inside. No one deserves to win if you allow that to happen.
On what Park needs to do better
We have to come ready to work everyday. This is their home gym, we know they're going to be well-prepared, and we didn't come to work tonight like we have as of late. We have to get back, look in the mirror, and prepare, prepare, prepare to fight, because we love this league.
On how they can better disturb the Crusader shooters
We have to fight through screens better. It's no secret how they run their offense, but we didn't fight through screens with early help & early screens and we paid for it.
- This game couldn't have felt anymore opposite from the first meeting between the two. This time, it was Canisius who shot the lights out and defended significantly better.
- Ryan Bradley and Brendan Trapper were exceptional in their performance inside against the size of Park.
- When the clock was winding down late in the first half and Nick MacDonald had the ball right in front of the scorer's table, I was thinking 'better get up on him or he'll drill one from right there'. Sure enough...splash. And it wasn't even like he was unguarded at the time, there was a defender with him, but just not realizing he needed to contest a shot from that distance.
- Like an idiot, I tweeted there was a tie for first place at the game's conclusion because the two teams had split. Fortunately, I had someone quickly come over and ask me about that. The Crusaders are the only one-loss team in the MMA. If Canisius wins out, they will be the number one seed in the Manhattan Cup playoffs.
- The win for Canisius snaps a three-game skip against Park and marked the first time Canisius has beaten the Pioneers without the services of Stafford Trueheart.
- The 24-point loss for Park was the largest margin of defeat the team has been dealt in any game in the last five seasons, since before they competed in the MMA.