Thursday, March 3, 2011

Women's Opener: Canisius tops Niagara

One of the toughest things about the MAAC tournament is that the two play-in round games for the women's event are concluded before the league's awards ceremony, sort of the tip-off festivity, for the five days of games.

It means that two teams are eliminted by Thursday late afternoon.

The first game decided was the meeting of No. 7 seed Canisius vs. No. 10 Niagara in a meeting that is an always hotly contested match oof Western New York rivals separated by about 10 miles of highway.

Canisius won, advancing to Friday's semifinal round against No. 2 seed Loyola, but not without some tense moments against a Niagara squad that finished the season with just eight healthy bodies.

The Purple Eagles rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to get within five, 50-45, with 4:23 remaining on a 3-pointer by senior sharpshooter Liz Flooks and was still within six, 55-48, with 2:31 left to play when freshman swingperson Chanel Johnson made a layup.

Canisius, though, got the final eight points, all on 8-for-8 free throw shooting (four each from Ashley Durham and Micayla Drysdale) to clinch it.

Flooks closed out a stellar career for the Purple Eagles, getting a game-high 17 points as Niagara finishes its season with a 1-29 overall record.

Canisius, a program with four standout freshmen, got much of its scoring from its veterans as Drysdale finished with 13, Durham with 12 and Stephanie MacDonald with 10. Canisius is now 11-19 overall.

GAME NOTES: Canisius wins a postseason game for the eighth time in the last nine
years, and eliminates Niagara from the MAAC Championship for the third
time in the last four years. The Golden Griffins are now 4-0 vs. Niagara in the league's post-season event, and is now 6-1 against all opponents in first-round games.

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