By Marshall Haim
Assistant Sports Editor
Kiefer Douse is considered a “left-handed slasher” in the Canisius game notes handed out before each game. The senior slashed the Quinnipiac Bobcats’ defense as the Griffs claimed their seventh consecutive victory on Wednesday evening at the Koessler Athletic Center, 83-77.
Recently, Douse has been on an absolute tear averaging 11.1 points per game, while bringing down 4.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals during the seven-game win streak. The Brampton, Ontario native has been one of Reggie Witherspoon’s go-to guys in his first season with the Griffs.
Against Quinnipiac on Wednesday, Douse set career-highs for points (18) and steals (5), while tying his career-best for rebounds (10). The 18 points and 10 rebounds marks the first time Douse has accrued a double-double. Douse’s team-leading 18-point output is the first time the 6-foot-3 Canadian has led the Blue and Gold.
“That stat line is impressive,” Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon said about Douse’s performance. “I don’t have it in front of me … I think it was 18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, five steals, no turnovers?” Witherspoon had Douse’s stat line remembered in memory, but when handed the stat sheet, he stated, “I don’t need it.”
Ben Wagner, the Griffs’ radio play-by-play man, called Douse’s stats “herculean”:
Douse’s stat line is even more impressive when looking at the box score as Douse has four assists and five steals while not turning the ball over once. That’s quite impressive, but to do that in 31 minutes is absolutely impeccable.
“The basketball gods just blessed me today,” Douse humbly said. “I’m just going out there, play hard and not think about scoring 20 or grabbing 10 rebounds. My main objective is to bring energy and try to have a winning environment.
Junior forward Jermaine Crumpton had another solid night at the office registering 14 points, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks in the win. Crumpton was forced to play against some of Quinnipiac’s bigger players when Witherspoon went with a four guard, one forward lineup, which featured Crumpton as the “big man”.
Quinnipiac has been notoriously known as one of the best rebounding teams, not only in the conference, but the nation. The Bobcats were able to produce 17 offensive rebounds while scoring 46 of their 77 points in the paint. For the second consecutive game, the Griffs enabled their opposition to score at least 45 points in the paint. The Griffs allowed 52 to Siena on Monday.
“They’re a tough team, give them credit in that regards” Crumpton said about playing the tough opposition. “They’re going to go out there and try to get to the glass. This game was inside. We saw it, we kept going to it and it motivated me and got my engine going.”
Junior guard Kassius Robertson continued his offensive success by having another double-digit scoring performance. Robertson, coming off an impressive performance against Siena, scored 17 points (six of which coming off free throws). Robertson added four rebounds and two assists in the win on Wednesday.
The game, for Canisius, was not the best game played all season long, but the Griffs did not play sloppy offensive basketball. The Griffs managed to turn the ball over twice in the first half and spent majority of the second half without turning the ball over until the Bobcats instituted a full-court man-to-man press that forced the Griffs to cough the ball over three times in just over a minute and a half.
The five turnovers by the Griffs matches the lowest ever total in Canisius’ 113-year history. The only other time the Golden Griffins turned the ball over five times in one game came in the 2004-05 season at the MAAC Tournament. Canisius won the game against the Marist Red Foxes before losing to the Rider Broncs the following day. Evidently, it was the final two games of Mike MacDonald’s reign at the helm of the Canisius program.
“Well now I’m kind of mad that if we took care of the ball at the end we could have broke the record. I think the guys will think that when they hear that,” Witherspoon laughed. “We’re getting better, gradually, at taking care of the basketball. Sometimes you make three steps backwards, but we are getting gradually better. We have to keep doing that and that’s a huge key for us. If you have 21 assists and five turnovers, you should have a good chance to win.”
Quinnipiac’s front court featured two young players that will end up being players to really focus in on in the upcoming years. Freshman guard Peter Kiss led the Bobcats in scoring with 18 points, while adding five rebounds and three assists. Fellow freshman guard Mikey Dixon also contributed a high point total in the loss, scoring 16 points and adding four assists.
“They’ve been phenomenal,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said. “They’re good kids and they’re gym rats. They’re tough and want to be good. They have some fearlessness in them and sometimes, offensively, I leave them on an island a little too much. We, as a staff, have to constantly do a better job of making their jobs easier with what we run. They have no backdown in them and their futures are definitely bright.”
Canisius (9-5, 3-1) hopes to match the team’s longest winning streak since the 1998-99 season when they travel to New Rochelle, N.Y. to face the Iona Gaels (9-6, 2-2) on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m vying for their eighth consecutive victory. The Griffs will continue their road trip on Monday when they will visit the Fairfield Stags for a 7 p.m. tipoff. Quinnipiac (5-9, 2-2) will return home to Hamden, Connecticut to face off against Manhattan (5-9, 0-3) on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tipoff.
A Look Around the MAAC
There were only two games going on in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on Wednesday, both involving schools in the Western New York area. Along with the Canisius win, the Niagara Purple Eagles were able to defeat the Siena Saints, who ended up being swept on their Western New York road trip.
Manhattan and Fairfield will due battle on Thursday for a 7 p.m. tipoff, before Friday sees two games (Marist hosts Rider, while Iona travels to Monmouth to renew the upcoming MAAC rivalry based from last year’s intense battles between both schools.