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The Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog is back and improved. We'll keep you updated on everything you need to know about Rider and Princeton hoops as well as the college basketball landscape.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Morning Run — Game 21: Canisius 67, Rider 50

Quick reaction: That five-game winning streak was gone in a flash. The Broncs (11-10, 6-3) never looked up to challenge Friday night, and Canisius (13-7, 6-3) turned on the jets in the second-half for a 17-point victory. Looking back, Rider was fortunate to be down just three at the half and without an increase in energy were in trouble for the second 20 minutes. The Griffs opened the second half 17-4 and never looked back. If the Broncs felt like they were in with the conference's elite following that five-game win streak, this was a step back to the middle of the pack. "I think it shows we're a little immature," said coach Kevin Baggett. "We have to understand that people will start hunting us. Guys I lean on didn't show up."



No shows: It was pretty clear Canisius was a tough matchup for Rider. When Danny Stewart and Jon Thompson aren't up for the races, the Broncs aren't winning any games.

"I'm pissed that some of our guys didn't match their toughness," coach Kevin Baggett said. "When we don't do that, we're not a very good team."

Stewart (six points, two rebounds, 16 minutes) was glued to the bench for all but the first four minutes of the second half and Thompson — he's been a rock nightly — had an off game, scoring two points on 1 of 6 shooting.

The one knock on Stewart is that he doesn't have a mean streak. If you can beat him up a little bit early, you can take him off his game. That certainly happened Friday night, and against a team with size and strength — like Canisius — Stewart has to be at his best for the Broncs to have a chance.

His ineffectiveness is part of the reason Rider was hammered on the boards, 42-22.

"Danny and Jon didn't have and I noticed that right away," Baggett said. "It's a cause for concern as a coach."

But Baggett also noted that it's a short-term concern, adding he expects both to bounce back Sunday with Manhattan in town.

For real: Yes, we're talking about Canisius here.

The Griffs are going to be a tough out in March.

Why?

Well, they're big, have strong guard play and shoot the 3. They start 6-foot-10 center Jordan Heath and bring his brother, 6-9 Josiah, off the bench. Jordan — who is averaging nine and six —  had 17 points, including a trio of 3-pointers Friday night. Billy Baron, Harold Washington and Isaac Sosa give them an excellent backcourt. Baron loves to attack the rim, collapsing the defense and setting up open 3s for Washington and Sosa.

Canisius ranks fifth nationally in 3-pointers made per game with 9.2 and 16th in 3-point percentage (39 percent). Against Rider, which came in 10th nationally in 3-point defense with opponents shooting 27.7 percent, the Griffs hit 9 of 24 attempts.

Jim Baron is already the league's Coach of the Year and his son, Billy, is certainly in the discussion for Player of the Year.

We'll learn more about the Griffs in the coming days. They host first-place Niagara Sunday in a game that is already sold out and have Iona — they already lost in New Rochelle — next week.


AROUND THE MAAC
Iona 90, St. Peter's 71: All four Gael starters scored in double figures, led by Lamont Jones' 24. This wasn't Iona's real test, it has three in a row on the road coming up against Loyola, Niagara and Canisius. That stretch will let us know if Iona (13-7, 7-2) can win the regular-season title for the second straight season.

Loyola 51, Manhattan 41: Greyhounds (15-6, 7-2) turned the screws defensively, holding Jaspers (5-14, 3-6) to 31.1 percent from the floor. Loyola, because of its defense, is going to be a difficult to solve in the conference tourney. If the Hounds can muck it up enough against the high-powered offenses of Niagara, Iona and Canisius, that game favors them because there's uncertainty that any of those three can win that type of game.

Niagara 78, Siean 69: The Purple Eagles (12-8, 8-1) scored 10 of the final 12 points, surviving a 30-point night by the Saints' Evan Hymes to remain in first place. In the MAAC, guard play is so important and Niagara has two of the best. Juan'ya Green missed a triple-double by one rebound and Antoine Mason finished with 17 points. With those two, the Purple Eagles are always going to have a chance to win.

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