Canal Cup Trophy continues to call Canisius home

By Dominic Chamberlain, Sports Editor & Jesse PR Prieto, News Editor

A sea of students donning blue and gold drowned out the final buzzer, signalling Canisius’ second victory over Niagara in five hours at the Koessler Athletic Center. Canisius’ men’s and women’s basketball team’s downed the Purple Eagles in consecutive contests on Koessler hardwood.

Sitting within earshot of Thursday’s roaring crowd, the Canal Cup Trophy will be staying at the College’s campus for another year after the pair of victories on Thursday night, which finalized Canisius’ win in the Battle of the Bridge rivalry, which currently sits at an insurmountable 19.5-4.5. Canisius has dominated the rivalry for now six consecutive years, a strong legacy for this classes graduating seniors to leave behind.

On a somber note, the doubleheader marked the last time Canisius seniors on other team would dress for gameday at the KAC. Graduating senior Jamal Reynolds seemed to speak for all in his position when he said prior to the contests, “I expect a jam-packed game…and I expect we will ultimately win the game.”

 

Game one of the Battle of the Bridge doubleheader tipped off just after 5 p.m. and the Griffs started the game off with a bang. Although C-Block was nowhere to be found, the Griffs women’s basketball team played their hearts out.

Neither team shot particularly well in the game: the Purple Eagles shot 16-56 from the field while the Griffs shot a more respectable 17-42. Both teams were able to hit four-three pointers, but the Griffs hit their threes off of 14 attempts while the Purple Eagles went 4-19.

While the numbers may seem like a really subtle change, it seems to have been the difference in the game. Throughout the contest, The Griffs seemed to be more selective with their shots and the aforementioned statistics only help to prove that.

Margret Halfdanardottir had the hot hand for the Griffs in the rivalry matchup. Halfdanardottir shot a game high 71 percent from the field while leading the Griffs with 13 points in the game. Maria Welch and Lauren D’Hont also broke double digits in points for the Griffs with 11 and 12 respectively.

The Purple Eagles relied on one woman for their scoring; Kaylee Stroemple. Stroemple exploded for a game-high 17 points, all without making a single three pointer.

The most interesting stat from this game just may be turnovers. The Griffs turned the ball over 16 times, but Niagara was only able to squeeze out a measly six points from those turnovers, while the Purple Eagles turned the ball over 19 times and the Griffs were able to turn those into 19 points. In a game that was ultimately decided by only nine points, that that 13 point differential made all the difference.

Those loss was a final nail in the Canal Cup coffin for the Griffs, as the win against the Purple Eagles clinched the Cup for a sixth straight year.

 

Fast forward just one hour after the women’s game went final and the second game of the Canisius-Niagara doubleheader kicked off between the two school’s men’s basketball teams.


Oddly enough the game seemed to follow almost the same formula with neither team shooting particularly well.

This time however, it was the Purple Eagles who seemed to have the edge in shooting as they went 7-17 from three-point territory. The Griffs, who have relied on the three ball all year, shot an abysmal 3-20 from the arc.

“We really didn’t shoot the ball all that well,” said Head Coach Jim Baron following the game. “But you have to take them to make them.”

The game also seemed to follow a similar path in terms of scoring. The Griffs had Phil Valenti and Malcolm McMillan both lead the team in scoring with 14 points each whereas the Purple Eagles were led by a phenomenal performance by Emile Blackman, who erupted for 27 points and at times was the only person keeping the Purple Eagles in the game.


In both halves of play, the Griffs came out hot as they opened up over 10 point leads on their rivals, but Blackman was there to help his team crawl back into the game. Blackman had 17 of the Purple Eagles 25 points in the first half.


When the Griffs went on a run again in the second half, Blackman again led the charge back for Niagara. At multiple points late in the game, the Purple Eagles were only losing by three points. This is where the C-Block effect was finally felt.

The one thing missing from the women’s game was perhaps the most consistent thing in the men’s game. The crowd noise played a factor all game. It got to a point where the officials were forced to tell the fans to quiet down as the Purple Eagles took their free throws.

“I want to thank the fans,” said Baron “I want to thank the student body. To do it on senior night was a special occasion.”

The Griffs ultimately won this game too, this time by a score of 65-60. On this night the stats became secondary. The emotion was the deciding factor.
With the Canal Cup staying put in Canisius hands for at least another year, this year’s seniors can rest easy knowing that they’ve done their job, passing the torch to next year’s class to continue the College’s dominance over our crosstown rivals.

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