This is the first installment of the “Canisius Men’s Basketball Summer Series”, which will feature a look back at various aspects from the 2012-13 season and eventually a look forward to the 2013-14 campaign. These features will be posted every Monday throughout the summer until Monday, Aug. 26, the first official day of school for the 2013-14 academic year.
Leading off is a look back at the five biggest wins of the 2012-13 season. The Golden Griffins ended the 2012-13 campaign with a 20-14 overall record and an 11-7 mark in MAAC play. The 20-win season was the program’s first 2000-01, and the team’s 15-game improvement in the win column ended up being the third best at the Division I level in 2012-13.
No. 1 – Canisius 77, Niagara 70 – Video Highlights • Social Media Recap
Led by Billy Baron and his career-high 33 points, Canisius went on the road and defeated long-time rival Niagara 77-70 in front of a sold-out Gallagher Center in Lewiston, N.Y. The win not only improved the Griffs to 16-9 overall, it also served as the team’s ninth league win of the year, securing at least a .500 record in conference play for just the fourth time in the last 15 years. The victory also snapped the Blue and Gold’s nine-game road losing streak in Niagara’s Gallagher Center and it allowed the Griffs to claim a win over all three of their Western New York rivals (Buffalo, Niagara and St. Bonaventure) in the same season since 2000-01.
Baron's 33 points, the most for a Canisius player in a road game since former Griff Micheal Meeks scored 36 in a win at Pennsylvania Nov. 16, 1994, came after he went 11-for-22 from the field, 4-for-8 from 3-point land and 7-for-8 from the foul line in 39 minutes of action. Harold Washington scored 18 points and Jordan Heath chipped in eight points to go with 12 rebounds. Heath had three field goals in the game, but none was bigger than his put-back dunk with 52 seconds left on the clock to help seal Canisius’ first road win over Niagara since Nov. 30, 2002.
No. 2 – Canisius 84, Youngstown State 82 (OT) – Box Score
Trailing by 22 points with 18:17 left in regulation time, the Canisius men’s basketball team got back into the game with a 20-0 run and eventually defeated Youngstown State 84-82 in overtime March 23 in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament in Youngstown, Ohio. The win allowed the Golden Griffins to advance to the CIT quarterfinal, where the Blue and Gold eventually lost to Evansville in the Koessler Athletic Center three days later.
The win over the Penguins improved Canisius to 20-13 on the year, marking the seventh 20-win campaign in program history and the first since 2000-01. Billy Baron scored a game-high 30 points, with 26 of those coming in the second half and overtime. Alshwan Hymes scored a season-high 19 points off the bench, as the Griffs outscored Youngstown State 56-37 in the final 25 minutes of game action. All nine Canisius players scored in the victory, with Harold Washington posting nine points and six rebounds and Jordan Heath adding eight points and six boards in the winning effort.
The 22-point come-from-behind win was not only the largest comeback victory in program history (records dating back to 1970), but it also stands as the second-largest second-half comeback win in MAAC history. Fairfield overcame a 27-point deficit to defeat George Mason 101-96 in overtime in the 2010 CIT.
No. 3 – Canisius 72, Temple 62 – Social Media Recap
The visiting Griffs shot 48 percent from the field, 58.3 percent from 3-point range and 92.9 percent from the free-throw line in the game's final 20 minutes while outscoring the host Temple Owls by a 44-26 clip in the second half en route to a 72-62 victory Dec. 19 in the Chevrolet Gotham Classic at The Liacouras Center. The win moved Canisius to 8-2 on the year, and it allowed the Griffs to become just the second team in 38 contests to defeat the Owls on their home court.
The win over Temple was Canisius' first win over an Atlantic 10 school, other than St. Bonaventure, since the team defeated Duquesne 88-71 during the 1998-99 season. The victory also marked the Griffs' first win over a member of Philadelphia's famed Big 5 (La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Villanova) since the team beat Penn in the first game of the 1994-95 Preseason NIT. Billy Baron had game-high 19 points and Isaac Sosa chipped in 13 points, with 10 of those coming in the game’s second stanza. Canisius drained 10 3-point field goals in the game, with seven coming after intermission and the Griffs ended the contest with a 41-35 advantage on the glass, as Chris Manhertz (13 rebounds) and Josiah Heath (11 rebounds) tallied 24 of the team's 41 boards.
Three days later, Temple went on the defeat then No. 3 Syracuse 83-79 in the Chevrolet Gotham Classic game played in Madison Square Garden. After the Owls’ win, Canisius ended up trending on Twitter for nearly one hour.
No. 4 – Canisius 72, St. Bonaventure 69 – Video Highlights • Photo Gallery
In one of the most anticipated home games in recent memory, the Griffs knocked off long-time rival St. Bonaventure 72-69 in front of a sold-out Koessler Athletic Center Nov. 17 to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2000-01. Harold Washington scored 18 of his game-high 23 points in the second half and Isaac Sosa poured in 14 points as Canisius snapped a 20-game losing streak when trailing at intermission.
The Blue and Gold trailed the Bonnies by a 37-32 count at the break, and St. Bonaventure held a 65-59 advantage with 6:23 left on the clock before the Griffs ripped off 13-4 run to end the game. Canisius trailed by one point with 53 seconds left, but Chris Manhertz’s tip-in off a miss by Washington put the home team up for good at 68-67. In the game’s final 30 seconds, both Washington and Sosa hit a pair of free-throws to secure the win, allowing first-year head coach Jim Baron to become the first Griff bench boss to win his first two games at the helm of the program since John McCarthy won five-straight to open the 1974-75 season.
No. 5 – Canisius 77, Iona 74 – Video Highlights • Social Media Recap
The Griffs knocked down 14 3-point field goals and the team’s defense held high-scoring Iona to just 34 second-half points en route to a thrilling 77-74 victory Feb. 2 in the Koessler Athletic Center. The win was Canisius’ fifth victory in its last six games at the time.
Billy Baron led all scorers with a game-high 23 points as all five Canisius starters scored in double figures for the second-straight game. Harold Washington posted 13 points and Isaac Sosa was good for 12 points. Chris Manhertz scored 12 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds in the win for the Griffs, and Jordan Heath was good for 10 points and seven boards. As a team, Canisius shot 40 percent from the field, 46.7 percent from 3-point land after going 14-for-30 from long range and 70.4 percent from the free-throw line.
The 14 makes from 3-point land against the Gaels was one of 13 occasions during the 2012-13 season where the Blue and Gold hit 10 or more 3-pointers in a game. The win also gave the Griffs 15 wins by Feb. 2, the first time the program had reached the 15-win mark for the season that early in February since 1985-86.
Honorable Mention List
Canisius defeats Buffalo 71-64 in a sold-out KAC Nov. 20 to move to 3-0 for just the third time in the last 50 years… The Griffs beat Marist 94-82 Dec. 9, on the road on the power of a school-record 17 makes from 3-point land… Canisius blows out Siena 76-44 on Hall of Fame Day Jan. 19 – the program’s largest regular-season MAAC win since Feb. 8, 1997… The Griffs go on the road Jan. 25, and beat Rider 67-50, the program’s second win all-time in Lawrenceville, N.J... The team records its first postseason win since the 1995 NIT when Canisius drops Elon 69-53 March 20 in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
GoGriffs.com will look at the top-five individual game performances of the 2012-13 season.