Niagara Gazette — Then, in an instant, Baron had barrelled back up the court and dropped in what appeared to be the winning basket. Jordan went to the bench to relieve his cramping legs while the Canisius players celebrated with the crowd. Mihalich looked at the scorer’s table, and was told the shot beat the buzzer.
Before you knew it, Jordan was being bear-hugged by Mihalich in the middle of the floor, and the small slice of purple-wearing fans in the stands were ecstatic over the sudden turn of events.
Billy Baron, a rookie in this 106-year-old rivalry, was stunned.
“I kind of blacked out,” the junior transfer from Rhode Island said. “I can’t explain the feeling. It was a high to the ultimate low. You see them celebrate on your home court, it takes everything out of you. It absolutely drains you.”
But Baron acknowledged that the Griffs lost the game before the final buzzer. They shot 38.5 percent from the field and earned only eight free throws at home. Their 12 turnovers turned into 19 Niagara points, and despite having a size advantage, they were outscored 34-24 in the paint.
“The toughest team won this game,” said Chris Manhertz, who had 17 points and 15 rebounds and was “the toughest guy on the floor,” according to Mihalich.
Antoine Mason added 14 points for Niagara, matching the output from Canisius’ Issac Sosa. Green had nine points, same as Baron, but also chipped in eight assists (two more than his counterpart), five steals and five rebounds.
Niagara now plays five of its final eight MAAC games at home, but that doesn’t mean the schedule gets any easier. On Thursday, second-place Iona (14-7, 8-2), the lone team to beat Niagara this year, visits the Gallagher Center, and third-place Loyola (15-7, 7-3) is on deck for Saturday.
Canisius comes to the Gallagher Center on Feb. 9.