Pugh, Griffs second half heroics fall just short against Manhattan

 

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Tiana Pugh registered a career-high 33 minutes in the Griffs’ loss on Thursday. (Tom Wolf/Canisius College)

 

By Marshall Haim

Sports Editor

A second half offensive spark wasn’t enough for the Canisius women’s basketball team as they lost to Manhattan at the Koessler Athletic Center on Thursday, 59-56.

Canisius has now lost 12 of their last 13 games.

“The only thing I’m disappointed in is the outcome. Other than that, I thought we did a lot of good things,” Canisius head coach Terry Zeh stated. “Our compete level was really good and we played with a little more freedom when the game got flowing. We got some great looks down the stretch but those will fall for us.”

Tiana Pugh helped start the second half offensive outburst, by scoring all of her 15 points in the half. She converted on her first five shots in second half, before closing out the final two quarters shooting 6-of-8 from the field.

For the game, Pugh was 6-of-11, including 2-of-5 from beyond the three-point line.

Pugh, starting her third career game in as many games, recorded a career-high 33 minutes. Her previous career high came on Dec. 20 in the last game of the UT Rio Grande Valley Holiday Showcase against Middle Tennessee State, where she logged 31 minutes.

In Sunday’s loss at Rider, the 6-foot-3 forward only played five minutes.

“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable on the court,” Pugh said. “Obviously I didn’t get many minutes last year, so this year is very new to me. The comfort level is definitely rising with each game.

“At first it was difficult for me, but right now the only thing I’m struggling with is keeping my [mind] in there for the whole time. It’s not physically straining as I expected it to be, but my teammates make me very comfortable on the court.”

Zeh in the beginning of the year said that he was expecting Pugh to be a totally different player compared to last year and that has been exemplified in the last couple weeks.

“You’re starting to see she’s getting comfortable doing the things that we know she can do,” he said. “It’s hard to put it into a game. Gradually, she’s starting to put those things into the game and she can do so many things out there.”

As a team, Canisius did not shoot the ball well in the first half converting on 29 percent of their shots (6-of-25). In the second half, the offense converted on 45 percent of their shots, ending up with a 35 percent clip (19-of-54) for the game.

“I thought we got out into transition a little bit and got some easy baskets that way. I thought we got some good motion baskets,” Zeh said. “We found each other for a bunch of cuts close to the basket. That’s why we shot better in the second half, we just got better shots.”

Sara Hinriksdóttir scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the second half. Pugh and Hinriksdóttir combined to score 28 of Canisius’ 38 points in the final two quarters.

Manhattan (6-10, 3-2 MAAC) was led by seniors Amani Tatum and Kayla Grimme, each scoring a team-high 17 points. Tatum was a three-point threat for the Jaspers, going 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. She added seven rebounds. Grimme was 7-of-11 from the field to go along with six rebounds and four assists.

Canisius only scored seven points in the second quarter, going into the locker room at halftime trailing 24-18. Manhattan also scored only seven points in the quarter.

One aspect of the game that Canisius thrived in was forcing turnovers. In the previous meeting just a week ago in Riverdale, Canisius forced the Jaspers to cough the ball up 20 times. In Thursday’s game, they forced 23 turnovers – 12 of which came off steals.

Off those turnovers, the Griffs were able to score 23 points. Canisius ended up winning the turnover battle handily, 23-11.

The Griffs (3-12, 1-3 MAAC) will return to their home floor for an afternoon contest with Siena (7-8, 2-2 MAAC) Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.

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