Game 072: (7) Canisius 62, (8) Marist 60MAAC First Round
Friday, March 4, 2005
HSBC Arena - Buffalo, NY
In conference tournaments, the sevens and the eights and the nines don't figure they'll be staying long. They usually send a bus with the team, the staff, a couple of cheerleaders and the mascot suit in the lower stow-away.
So the ultimate sign of confidence of a low seed is an oversized contingent. Marist
- this year's MAAC 8 - sent a full pep band, a full set of cheerleaders, their energetic dance team, as well as Shooter the Red Fox. Despite the fact that 7 Canisius
had defeated them twice already, including a 85-81 decision at Marist last Saturday to close out the regular season, they made plans to spend the weekend in Buffalo seeing the sights and cutting a wide swath through the bracket.
And for the entirety of the first half, that confidence seemed perfectly justified. Marist's two big men, senior Will McClurkin and freshman Shae McNamara, showed the poise that had led the Foxes to six straight wins back in January and raised their fans' hopes for a title run. When the halftime score blinked 30-21 in favor of Marist, the team that had ended its regular season by losing nine of its last 10 seemed a distant memory.
But then, after a series of halftime adjustments, Canisius clawed back. McClurkin disappeared into a spinning jack-shaped matchup zone defense, and the Griffin guards began to get free and open looks. The deficit was wiped away by the ten-minute mark, and the white-clad higher seed held their opposition at bay down the stretch.
One of this site's memes during the 100 Game Project has been that I've had nothing to say about Canisius, no matter how hard I tried. I saw them three times previously
, and could not even bring myself to name or describe a single player. But in this contest, they scrapped and scratched and fought, just as they had in each of the other games, and in the end eliminated a team that came in with overconfidence they had not earned.
After the buzzer sounded, as Marist's large band packed up its instruments and readied for the long bus ride home, the Canisius players - some with surnames on the backs of their jerseys and some without - gathered around the center circle and joined raised hands in unity. They may be a non-descript team without anything resembling a star, but it was this style of play that earned them a win that will give its fans some fond memories when the inevitable offseason arrives.Photo Gallery (Games 071/072/073)
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