Albany vs Canisius: Live Reaction

As we have for the last four seasons, MFST will be covering the Canisius Golden Griffins men’s basketball program.

This season, expectations are high with two potential NBA players on the roster (Isaiah Reese and Takal Molson) and the bulk of the team that won a share of the MAAC Regular Season title, return.

The Griffs defeated Bucknell in the season opener 82-73 and return to the Koessler Center in Buffalo, NY for the home opener against upstate rival UAlbany.

From tip-off to the ending buzzer, we will be updating this article as all the action happens live, courtside.

Check our Facebook page for LIVE videos of all the action.

Game Preview and Prediction

1st Half

Right before tip-off the Griffs revealed their 2017-18 Co-MAAC Regular Season banner after winning a school record 15 conference games a season ago.

Canisius is using the same starting lineup from their season opening win against Bucknell. The three guards, Malik Johnson, Takal Molson and Isaiah Reese are mainstays but Scott Hitchon and Jalanni White played well in the front court.

Albany wins the tip and quickly turns it over.

A lot of up-and-down action through two minutes, but little to show for it. After splitting a pair of free throws, Canisius trails UAlbany 2-1.

Sophomore forward Scott Hitchon making his third career start is a hidden x-factor for this team—if he can dominate the paint, play off of the guards in the pick-n-roll, rebound and play solid defense—this Canisius team will be difficult to stop.

And as soon as I say that, the ‘other’ forward Jalanni White plays incredible defense and blocks a driving layup.

The two stars of the Griffs (Reese and Molson) are looking rusty to start. Zero points on four shots with one turnover—Albany leads 4-3 with 15:37 to go.

Both head coaches are utilizing their bench seven minutes in. Canisius head man Reggie Witherspoon is sticking with Reese and Molson on the court—as he should, the Griffs are struggling on offense to start and those two are the most gifted players on the court today.

Through eight minutes we are tied at eight. Both teams have been playing fast, but shooting wildly. The Danes are 3-for-13 from the floor and the Griffs are 3-for-12.

After starting 0-for-8, the Griffs finally nailed a three-point jumper, by senior Jonathan Sanks.

Scott Hitchon gives the Griffs a lead with a beautiful five-foot fadeaway jumper, something he struggled with last year as a freshman—13-11 with 8:40 to go.

After missing his first seven shots, you see why the NBA scouts are drooling over Takal Molson. He made an incredible drive, crossing over one defender, to spin away from another while making a perfect layup.

Isaiah Reese is the only player to play the full first half with six minutes to go. His endurance has improved each year he has been in Buffalo.

With 3:30 to play, Albany has jumped out to a three-point lead 21-18. The Griffs have not scored since the 6:04 mark.

With two minutes to play and the Griffs trailing 24-18, there is one explanation I can evidently see—too many three-point shots. The team is 1-for-14 from deep and failing to work the ball inside at all.

Halftime at the Koessler Center, the Great Danes lead the Griffs 26-22.

Some key stats:

Canisius is 9-for-27 from the floor including 1-for-14 from deep.

Scott Hitchon leads the Griffs in scoring with six points.

Isaiah Reese played the entire first half and produced four points, five rebounds, one assist and two turnovers.

Malik Johnson had two fouls, but only saw five minutes of action in the first half. Somewhat surprising even with the foul trouble that Reggie decided to keep him on the bench while the Griffs were struggling.

I wrote about Albany guard Cameron Healy in the game preview, and he has not disappointed in the first half scoring six points, grabbing four rebounds while dishing out two assists.

It’s been a total team effort by the Danes in the first half. Healy (6 points), Ahmad Clark (7 points, 4 assists) and Devonte Campbell (7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists) have paced the way for their first half lead.

2nd Half

Canisius did not look like themselves but only trail by four.

Albany gets the ball to start the second half and instantly drains a three. They now lead Canisius 29-22.

A pretty play for the Griffs, Reese drove beautifully in the lane and kicked it out to….Scott Hitchon who nailed the three-pointer, only the second three from Canisius today.

Cameron Healy of Albany answered Hitchon’s three with one of his own. He is not afraid of being the go-to-guy for the Danes.

With 17 minutes remaining in the game Canisius trails 32-29.

Through four minutes of game action, it is eerily similar to how the beginning of the first half played out—sloppy.

Neither team is shooting particularly well, look at these numbers:

Canisius: 32% FG, 11% 3-Point, 55% FT

Albany: 38% FG, 30% 3-Point, 50% FT

Overall, ugly numbers and why no team has even reached 40 points yet in the second half.

With 14 minutes to play in the second half and the Griffs trailing by three, Isaiah Reese gets his first breather of the game. How long will Reggie keep him on the bench?

Canisius ties the game at 35 with Takal Molson’s and-one—Albany responds with a Kendall Lauderdale jumper. We haven’t talked Lauderdale at all, but he’s been impressive off the Albany bench with six points in 12 minutes.

As soon as the Griffs tied up the game at 35, Albany went on a 7-0 run making the fans in the Koessler Center quiet (besides the Canisius and of course). UAlbany leads 42-35 with 11:57 to play.

The Griffs offense is failing to penetrate the lane, causing a lot of ball movement and low-percentage jumpers.

For a team that has lived and died by the three, shooting 3-for-20 from beyond the arc in the game is reason number one as to why they are losing.

Defense will get them back in the game and that’s exactly what the Griffs are doing. Trailing 47-40, Canisius turned Albany over on back-to-back possessions creating four fastbreak points—and just like that it’s a one-possession ball game 47-44 Great Danes lead with eight minutes to play.

Whenever it seems Canisius is going to change the momentum of this game, Albany does enough to keep the Griffs a possession or two down. The Danes are getting to the paint with little resistance in the second half and that shows in their shooting percentage—a whopping 70 percent this half.

Ahmad Clark is stepping up in a big way for the Danes in the second. After scoring seven points in the first half he has already tallied 19 total points, 12 of those within the first 14 minutes since halftime.

With five minutes to play Canisius will need to do a complete 180 from how they have been playing. They trail by seven, 56-49.

Four minutes to play trailing seven, the Griffs are employing a full-court press. Will it work? Not if Ahmad Clark has anything to say as he nails another bucket, his 24th point of the night, putting Albany up 63-51.

Trailing by 12 with 2:30 to go, the Griffs fan base is beginning to head for the exits. Stranger things have ahappened in college basketball, but the way the Griffs have been shooting, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to find their stroke in time.

With 1:45 to go, Takal Molson finally hits his second three-pointer (in eight attempts) to bring the Griffs within single-digits, 67-58.

The Griffs comeback bid seems to be falling short, tossing up prayer three-pointers are not getting it done and with 1:20 to play the lead is back up to double-digits. 70-59.

The final score Albany 75 Canisius 66.

No doubt a disappointing performance for the Griffs who have some steep competition ahead when they begin the AdvoCare Invitational. Florida State, Villanova and either Memphis/Oklahoma State will be Canisius’ next three opponents.

Key Stat:

Isaiah Reese– 3-for-13 from the field and 0-for-7 from deep.

Stay tuned to MFST as we head south to cover the Griffs in the AdvoCare Invitational next week in sunny Florida.

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Dan Schalk

Dan Schalk is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for MFST and can be heard weekly on the 'My Fantasy Podcast'. He is likely watching Seinfeld right now, not that there's anything wrong with that.
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Latest posts by Dan Schalk (see all) SchalkAmerican EastMAACNCAABRecent PostsAlbany Great Danes,Albany vs Canisius,Canisius Golden Griffins,College Basketball,MAACAlbany vs Canisius: Live Reaction As we have for the last four seasons, MFST will be covering the Canisius Golden Griffins men’s basketball program. This season, expectations are high with two potential NBA players on the roster (Isaiah Reese and Takal Molson) and the bulk of the team that won a...