By Jonah Bronstein
AMHERST — The Canisius basketball faithful might finally have a team they can be faithful for.
Frank Turner drove coast-to-coast and banked in a short runner with 1.5 seconds left Tuesday as the Golden Griffins defeated Buffalo 73-71 in front of 3,392 fans at Alumni Arena on Tuesday.
“We thought this was going to be one of those college basketball games that everybody would enjoy and it would come down to the last possession like always does,” said Tom Parrotta, who won a road game against a local rival for the first time in his four years coaching at Canisius.
“I said the gloves would come off, and the gloves came off. This is going to be one for the ages. Not to sound corny, but I think it made a lot of people’s nights. I think it was a good, hard-fought college basketball game.”
Turner, Parrotta’s first recruit and the only senior in the current rotation, grabbed Calvin Betts’ missed layup off the rim with seven seconds left and burst up the floor for the winning layup.
“Coach is always telling us be tough, grab the rebound,” said Turner, who finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. “I grabbed the rebound after Alshwan (Hymes) contested the shot, and it was just one-on-one with Rodney Pierce.”
Pierce’s halfcourt shot at the buzzer just missed after banking off the backboard.
The Golden Griffins slapped the Bulls logo at midcourt afterward, proud to have ended a five-game losing streak in the series.
But UB coach Reggie Witherspoon downplayed the intensity of this local rivalry in his postgame comments.
“Our rivals are in the (Mid-American) conference,” he said. “We’ve never viewed this as a Big 4 rivalry. It’s never been a situation where our guys have circled it on our schedule. We’ve said that when we’ve won and when we’ve lost.”
Witherspoon was more concerned with the fact that the Bulls (2-2) have book-ended two road wins with two poor efforts at home.
“We might start (spreading) the H1N1 virus so there will be no spectators,” he said. “We haven’t played well in this building going back to the exhibition game (against Daemen).”
The Bulls got 40 of their points from the bench. Max Boudreau led the way with 15 points, while Jawaan Alston and Zach Filzen both had nine. Pierce scored 11 points and dished out five assists. Titus Robinson had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Canisius got a career-high 26 points from Julius Coles. Greg Logins had 14 points and seven rebounds, but missed two point blank shots in the final minute.
UB led 42-32 before Canisius opened the second half on a 22-3 run. But the Bulls quickly closed the deficit, and after a few lead changes, went ahead 60-57 with six minutes remaining.
A bizarre block-charge double-foul on Canisius’ Robert Goldsberry and UB’s John Boyer fouled out the Bulls’ starting point guard with 1:27 left and gave the Griffs the ball on alternating possession.
Witherspoon said he’s never seen that call made in the deciding moments of a game, and that he was “still waiting” for an explanation from the officials.
“We didn’t play well enough to win,” Witherspoon added. “We didn’t play with any consistency.”
The Griffs know the feeling. Turner said to Parrotta after the game that, “This is one we would’ve lost last year. ... We would’ve been down by 10, then 20, and fought hard in the end to make it a close game.”
That wasn’t the case this time.
“It’s irony at its best,” Parrotta said. “(Turner)’s been maligned. But not this year. He made the play and won the game.”