March 4, 2006
ALBANY, N.Y. - Senior guard Jon Popofski scored the game-winning lay-up as time expired to give ninth-seeded Canisius College (9-19) an exciting 74-72 victory over the sixth-seeded Greyhounds (15-13) in the first round of the Citizens Bank MAAC Basketball Championships at Pepsi Arena on Friday evening.
With the win, the Golden Griffins advance to Saturday's quarterfinals against third-seeded Marist College at 10:00 p.m.
With the score tied at 72-72, senior guard Andre Collins had a chance to give the Greyhounds a two-point lead, but his 17-foot jumper missed and Popofski grabbed the rebound to set up the game-deciding play. After Canisius called a timeout with 3.2 seconds remaining, Popofski caught a pass from senior Kevin Downey and drove through the free throw lane with a lay-up that went in off the backboard as time expired.
Canisius took a 9-8 advantage with 16:02 left in the first half and used a 69.6 per cent shooting performance from the field to take a seven-point lead into the locker room. Downey and Popofski combined for 23 of the Golden Griffins' 39 points in the first half while Collins had eight points for the Greyhounds.
Trailing by 39-32 at the intermission, the Greyhounds rallied to take a 54-45 advantage with a 22-6 run, which was capped with a Collins three-pointer and ensuing free throw with 12:30 remaining. Loyola held the advantage until Downey hit a three-pointer with 2:26 remaining to tie the game at 70-70. Following a pair of free throws from junior Shane James, Downey hit a jumper to tie the game again and set up the heroics for the Golden Griffins.
Popofski led the Golden Griffins with 21 points by making 7 of 11 shots from the floor and three of five free throws. Downey also added 20 points for the Golden Griffins, who had four players in double figures. Canisius shot 59.2 per cent from the field in the game, including an 8 for 17 effort from three-point range.
Collins paced the Greyhounds with a game-high 24 points in the loss. He made 9 of 19 shots from the floor, including 5 of 12 from beyond the arc, to go with four assists in 39 minutes. Sophomore Brad Farrell added 11 points and four rebounds while James and sophomore Michael Tuck chipped in 10 points each off the bench.
With his nine field goals in the loss, Collins set a new school record for made field goals in a single season. He has 256 field goals, which eclipses the previous mark of 251 set by David Gately. Collins also set a record for the best scoring average in a single season, scoring 26.1 points per outing.
The 15 wins by the Greyhounds are the most since the 1993-1994 season when Loyola went 17-13 and made their only NCAA Tournament appearance. The Greyhounds also clinched their first winning season in 12 years.