Down by as many as 12 and up by as many as seven, Canisius found a way to turn the game over to the Detroit Titans.
The Golden Griffins turned the ball over 23 times in a game where they held a seven point advantage with just over 11 minutes left. A late rally by the Griffs in the final two minutes fell short as Detroit won this Gotham Classic contest over the Blue and Gold, 83-78.
Coaches usually shy away from the opportunity to attack the referees after they feel an unfair game was called. Griffs head coach Jim Baron was polite as possible after this loss, but couldn’t quite stay completely mum.
“They were physically beating the hell out of us,” said Baron. “It seemed like it was going just one way.”
The foul discrepancy was imminent as they Griffs were called for 10 more fouls than the Titans (22-12). Despite the refereeing and the physical play, the Griffs found themselves with a chance in the final minute.
Detroit used two 12-0 runs throughout the game to take control and the lead, only the later of the two would ultimately secure the win.
With the game tied at 19 midway through the first half, the Titans went on the first of their runs to take the lead 31-19, only to see Canisius make a 23-8 run to close out the half and lead by three at the break.
The Griffs controlled the early stages of the second half, stretching their lead to as many as seven but another 12-0 run by Detroit saw that lead turn into a five point deficit.
Detroit tried to put Canisius away as the game’s final minutes approached but the visiting MAAC opponent wouldn’t go down easy. With just over a minute to play, Isaac Sosa hit two three-pointers and Billy Baron followed with a fast break lay-up which cut an eight point Detroit lead to five after the Titans were able to sprinkle in a few foul shots. On the next possession, Billy Baron hit a leaning three point shot with contact but no call, to make it a two point game.
The Griffs couldn’t get any closer as Detroit’s free throw shooting down the stretch was near perfect.
“We still had a chance [at the end of the game],” said coach Baron. ”I thought our guys rebounded the heck out of it. We stepped up and made some big shots. We shot 51 percent, that’s huge. They made some big shots and some big plays. They were fortunate to win the game.”
Detroit was led by junior guard Ray McCallum who scored 22 points and dished out seven assists. McCallum, who is projected by many to be selected in next year’s NBA draft didn’t shoot the ball exceptionally well (5-14), but hit three long balls and went 9 for 11 at the free throw line, including seven in the game’s final minute.
Junior guard Billy Baron had another exceptional performance despite the loss. The team’s leading scorer nearly recorded a triple-double with 22 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
Canisius radio announcer, Jay Moran pointed out that Baron may have been favoring his right knee in the second half but he, along with many others suspect that it was due to the physical nature of the game. Baron hit the deck hard, three different times driving to the basket including once in the final 30 seconds.
Canisius had three other players in double figures including forward Jordan Heath who scored 17 points on seven of nine shooting and pulled down seven rebounds.
“Jordan had a terrific game,” said Baron. “We need him to have that because he’s a guy who can go inside and outside.”
Isaac Sosa had 17 points and five three pointers and Harold Washington added 13 points.
This was the final of four games the Griffs played as a part of the Gotham Classic. They defeated Temple and Alcorn State and fell to Syracuse and Detroit.
Besides a Bracket Buster game later in the year, this was the last non-conference game for the Griffs as they continue with conference play Thursday against Fairfield who they defeated back on December 7th 67-55 in Connecticut.
Photo courtesy of Tom Wolf Imaging
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