A record-setting day for Griffs in home opener


Isaiah Reese became the first player to record a triple-double in the 114-year history of the program. (Marshall Haim/The Griffin)

By Marshall Haim

Sports Editor

Isaiah Reese dedicated Saturday’s game against Youngstown State to a friend who had passed away earlier this week.

And what a game Reese had.

The sophomore recorded the first triple-double in Canisius’ men’s basketball history, scoring 23 points, hauling in 11 rebounds and earning 11 assists for the Griffs in a commanding 104-84 win.

“I really got to thank those guys. Without them I wouldn’t be able to go out there and perform,” Reese said after becoming the first player to record a triple-double in the 114-year history of the program. “We were all flowing together and that helped me get it. Without the momentum and energy we were creating, I never would have got it.”

Even head coach Reggie Witherspoon was impressed with Reese’s performance, noting that it is quite hard to achieve a triple-double, regardless if it’s the NBA or college.

“That’s really incredibly hard to do in a 40-minute game, incredibly hard to do,” Witherspoon stated. “It’s hard enough to do it in a 48-minute game. It’s a very difficult thing to do because of the fatigue and the limited time you have to do it.”


Malik Johnson scored a career-high 22 points in Saturday’s win. (Marshall Haim/The Griffin)

In addition to Reese’s 11 assists, fellow point guard Malik Johnson had a career-high 22 points while adding seven assists. Both sophomore guards combined for 18 of the team’s 29 assists in the win.

“I think playing with two point guards helps a lot,” Johnson, when combined with Reese had 18 of the team’s 29 assists Saturday, said. “Most of time, the other team doesn’t have two point guards in and we can go off matchups and Isaiah can bring the ball up and I’m on the wing. I think it gives us a big advantage.”

“I think having those two guys in the game together helps everyone else get easier shots,” Witherspoon added. “The way the game has sort of started to be played, it’s helpful to have two point guards on the floor at the same time.”

In addition to the impressive performances by both Reese and Johnson, Canisius had additional records that were either broken or set.

The 104-point performance is the first time the Griffs surpassed a point total over the century mark on their home floor in regulation since Feb. 28, 1989 against Elmira, a Division III opponent. Sophomore Spencer Foley had the most 3-pointers in a half at the Koessler Athletic Center, netting six in the opening half.

Foley scored a team-best 25 points, going 8-of-9 from the field including 6-of-7 from 3-point range. His 22 points in the first half was also the most by a Canisius player in a half since Malcom McMillan had 22 at Hofstra two years ago.

“You have got to be confident,” Foley said. “I know I shoot it so well, I just have to stay the same if I’m making them or missing them. I know how I shoot it. You just have to confident, no matter what. It’s fun when they’re all dropping. It’s a good team win.”

Senior forward Jermaine Crumpton was also another Canisius player to score at least 20 points in the win, scoring 21 points. Crumpton went 9-of-11 from the field to go along with five rebounds.

The intensity Youngstown State brought to the court will definitely help the team in the long run. The Penguins run a West Virginia-esqe style, with their head coach, Jerrod Calhoun, being a disciple of legendary Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins. Youngstown State continually presses and traps their opponent upon inbound passes, but then drops back into a half-court pressure defense.

“Playing a team like this early helps you prepare for a team like Manhattan that press,” Reese said. “We watch film, go over it, before we play Manhattan or anybody in our league that presses. We will just go over what we did today, try to execute better, and it will pay off.”

Canisius now enters a nasty stretch of their schedule, playing four road games in a six-day stretch. The Griffs will first play in Nashville, Tenn. against Tennessee State before traveling to Stockton, Calif. to play the remaining games in the Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase at the University of the Pacific.


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