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Pregame at Taps

Niagara vs. Loyola Live

Logjam atop the A-10

The St. Bonaventure men's basketball team needed overtime to win on the road last night against Rhode Island, the only winless team in Atlantic 10 league play. But a win is a win, and suddenly the Bonnies are tied for first in a tightly  packed A-10 race. Bona is in a five-way tie for first at 4-2 with St. Louis, Dayton, UMass and LaSalle. Temple, the highest A-10 team in the RPIs at No. 16, is a half-game back at 3-2. Five other teams have three losses.

That means 11 teams are within a game of first in the A-10, which actually has 13 teams (the Atlantic Baker's Dozen?). The Bonnies are only eighth among A-10 teams in the power rankings at No. 88, however. A home loss to Arkansas State drags down their rating. Too bad they lost close games to Illinois and North Carolina State. The Bonnies host Richmond on Saturday, then play a huge road game at St. Louis, which is currently 16-4 overall.

Meanwhile, the Bona women are ranked 27th in the AP poll and are 28th in the RPIs. They're 19-2 overall and 6-0 in the A-10. The Bonnies' two losses were to teams rated higher in the women's RPIs -- No. 7 Delaware and No. 15 Villanova. Barring a total collapse, Bona should make the NCAA Tournament. They'll have a strong case as an at-large if they don't win the A-10 tourney. No Western New York women's team has ever gotten an at-large berth. Only one team, Canisius, has gone as a conference champ.

--- Jerry Sullivan

WBB Live Blog: Saint Joe's at St. Bonaventure

Final: St. Bonaventure 68, Saint Joseph's 61 And the Bonnies find a way to win. Ortega finished with 20 points and the Bonnies improved to 19-2 overall, 6-0 in the A-10.

Second half

3:53 left: Bona leads, 58-54. The Bonnies had a nice run with a pair of buckets from CeCe Dixon combined with defensive stops. Bona got a defensive stop and a steal by Jessica Jenkins who pulled up for a quick three but missed it. The ball went out of bounds and will be Saint Joe's ball out of the time out.

7:54 left: Saint Joe's leads, 52-50. The Bonnies last five points have come from the free throw line. It hasn't been pretty on either end.

11:52 left: Tied, 45-45. The Hawks took a 45-38 lead but the Bonnies found a spark in Doris Ortega who already has her career high with 16 points. Good defense has turned into offensive opporuntities, including a key stop, break led by CeCe Dixon who spotted up Chelsea Bowker for a 3-pointer.

15:49 left: Saint Joe's leads, 37-36. It's been a flat start for the Bonnies.

Halftime: St. Bonaventure leads, 32-31. Admittedly, that was one of the poorer performances I've seen from the Bona women, particularly on the defensive end. The good news, even with the poor performance Bona is still leading.

Doris Ortego leads all scorers with 10 points for Bona while Megan Van Tatenhove has seven and Jessica Jenkins six. The Hawks have balanced scoring and shot 48.3 percent (14 of 29) fromthe floor. The Bonnies have an 18-15 advantange on the boards but need to defend better and do a better job working for shots. The offense has been an individual effort for the most part in the opening 20 minutes with ony three assists on 13 baskets.

First half

3:52 left: Bona leads, 30-26, The Bonnies are doing a good job with the Hawks press but not converting enough. Also, the Bonnies could use some better defense, or at least more consistency on the defensive end. The last part of that segement was a lull. Energy is key for the Bonnies going into halftime.

7:11 left: Bona leads, 23-22. The Hawks came out of the last timeout on a 7-0 run to tkae a 20-14 lead. Ah, but then the Bonnies remembered to play defense and got back in the groove thanks to some aggressive play by Megan Van Tatenhove. 

11:57 left: Bona leads, 14-13. Jessica Jenkins gathered a loose ball in traffic, backed up and hit a three-pointer. How she routinely makes those shots with no sense of balance is a mystery. The foul situation, however, could come into play. The Bonnies have been whistled for four already. Saint Joe's? None.

15:33 left: Saint Joe's leads, 9-5. The Hawks got out to a quick start. Bona had some good looks but missed shots. 

OLEAN -- The charmed season continues at the Reilly Center tonight as the St. Bonaventure women's basketball team hosts Saint Joseph's. The Bonnies just missed cracking the Associated Press Top 25 this week with 42 points, the second best among those receiving votes. Bona is 5-0 in the Atlantic 10, the only undefeated team in the conference. The Bonnies are 6-0 in January.

Saint Joe's meanwhie is 13-5 overall and 3-1 in the A-10. They needed overtime to beat Fordham at home an barely hung on to defeat Xavier. With four seniors in the starting lineup the Hawks are due for a break out game and would love nothing more than to upset the Bonnies.

--- Amy Moritz

UB-EMU Game Analysis

UB 65, Eastern Michigan 47

How UB Won: Execution. Eastern Michigan's zone and slow-down offense tests a team's patience threshold. The Bulls took a punch in squandering a 10-point first-half lead but got down to business in the second half. Twenty assists on 22 baskets and a second-half shooting percentage of 66.7 shows how effective they were in solving the riddle. They also turned 11 EMU turnovers into 22 points.

Player of the Game: Jarod Oldham had three of his 10 assists in the first 5 minutes of the second half when UB went from up one to up nine. He turned it over just three times. He grabbed four rebounds. Point guard was UB's mystery position coming into the season. It's not a mystery anymore. The 6-3 sophomore from Decatur, Ill., is playing beyond his years.

Stat of the Game: EMU 7-footer Da'Shonte Riley blocked 7 shots. He's a transfer from Syracuse and only a sophomore. Akron's Zeke Marshall plays like the 7-footer that he is. Riley plays 7-3.

Play of the Game: Mitchell Watt's behind-the-back bounce pass that found Javon McCrea for a layup.

Pick Me Up: Zach Filzen loosened up the Eagles' zone by going 5 of 10 from 3. He made one bomb with the shot clock winding down that had guard Darrell Lampley shaking his head in disgust.

They Said It . . .

UB coach Reggie Witherspoon: "That was the biggest team we've played and the tempo of the game was a challenge to us that I think as the game went on we got better at handling. But initially the tempo of the game was difficult. There was no rhythm to it.'

Javon McCrea on going up against Riley: "I don't think it rattled me that much. I think I handled it well." (McCrea made 6 of 10 shots en route to a game-high 17 points).

Witherspoon on the challenges of playing the divisional crossovers: "Guys are a little less familiar with each other. The players are. When you're playing against a team twice a year by the time these guys are seniors . . . they know. When they only see each other once and maybe there are some personnel changes, they're not as familiar."

Filzen on the West: "We don't obviously play them as much. It's a little bit different but I think overall we're just trying to win every game. . . . They're all Division I basketball teams."

What It Means: UB opens its crossover schedule with a conquest of one of the West Division co-leaders. But so did East-leading Akron, a winner at Ball State. The Bulls have won three straight and are 11-6 overall, 4-2 in the MAC.

In the House: Just 2,154 turned out. On a campus with an enrollment of 25,000. The students must work up a healthy hate only for Akron.

Next Up: The second of six straight crossovers is Saturday afternoon at Northern Illinois.

Bob DiCesare

UB vs. EMU Live

Big 4 Hoops Chat

Mixed reactions to Paterno's death

Count me among the many who had mixed feelings about Joe Paterno after he died from complications of lung cancer earlier this week. There was Paterno the football coach, Paterno to the educator and Paterno the man who turned a blind eye in the sex-abuse scandal that rocked Penn State.

Paterno was considered an icon in State College and beyond for more than 60 years for both his success in athletics and commitment to academics. Attitudes toward him changed when authorties said Paterno failed to notify police after hearing accusations that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had molested boys. 

It was one of the biggest scandals to rock college sports and left people conflicted by their opinions of Paterno, a tortured soul when he died at age 85. Why didn't he do more to help children? We'll never know for sure. He will forever be remembered as a terrific coach, but sadly the link between him and Sandusky will forever hang in the backdrop.

Here's the link to Buffalo News Editor Margaret Sullivan's blog http://blogs.buffalonews.com/sulliview/2012/01/for-a-few-shameful-hours-news-of-paternos-death-was-greatly-exaggerated.html 

Here are some reactions to my column earlier in the week from readers, cut and pasted from my email:

-- "MANY PEOPLE FEEL JOE PATERNO COACHED TOO LONG, ME INCLUDED.  CAN’T HELP BUT THINK A YOUNGER JOE PATERNO WOULD HAVE HANDLED THE SANDUSKY ORDEAL DIFFERENTLY" 

-- "When I think of Coach Paterno I think of people like my father when he coached, old school, honest, there for the kids more than the wins.  I believe that Joe's program got away from him, probably years ago.  I can not imagine a person in their 80's coach little league let alone big time!  I just wish that Penn State would have retired him in such a way that would have given him dignity.  He was not going to do it on his own.  They should have looked after this man the way he looked after kids.  Like you said, it is all very sad."

-- "Sex between consenting adults is usually recognized as none of our business. College students are adults and not children. College staff members are ethically not to engage in sex with students and their are employment rules covering this. What I read to believe what happened was not a criminal act but an unethical act that the University Officials mishandled but not Joe Paterno who reported it to them.
 
"Coaching a football team could result in disastrous grade results from a staff member who was sympathetic to Sandusky. This is one of the political minefields coaching has to navigate that are not publicly recognized. Losing star players could easily destroy a team and the University's alumni support.
 
"Anyway the media really misreported this as child abuse when the participant said nothing was wrong."

-- "It's a tough subject to discuss - the dichotomy between who Paterno was and what he wasn't, all at once.  For me, it's all incredibly gray, which you expressed very well. For most  not connected to Penn State I think it's usually more black and white."

--- Bucky Gleason

 

Video: Bona post-game following win over Fordham

The Bonnies post-game press conference after their 95-51 victory over Fordham:

Bona-Fordham Game Analysis

St. Bonaventure 95, Fordham 51

How Bona Won: It was a complete mismatch when Fordham's Chris Gaston had to miss game because of a one-game suspension. He's one of conference's better players, averaging 15.4 points and 10.5 boards. Without him, Bona had everything its way on the inside. Andrew Nicholson and Da'Quan Cook combined for 37 points and 17 rebounds. It was never, ever a game.

Player of the Game: Cook seized the opportunity from the outset and finished with a season-high 18 points and eight rebounds. He was 6 of 11 from the field.

Stat of the Game: The Bonnies went 24 of 26 from the foul line. That's 92.3 percent. Cook and Youssou Ndoye had the misses. I imagine they'll be running suicides next practice.

Stat of the Game II: Fordham shot 41.7 percent in the second half -- and still finished at 29.1 for the game. The Rams made 6 of 31 first-half shots.

In the House: 4,119 turned up and had a jolly-good time.

They Said It:

Fordham coach Tom Pecora: "Today's my birthday. Nice present, huh?"

Bona coach Mark Schmidt: "We emphasize all the time the three aspects of the game -- defending, rebounding and taking care of the ball. In all three facets I thought we excelled."

Eye-Opener: Circumstance afforded freshman guard Jordan Gathers 20 minutes off the bench. He has game: 12 points, seven rebounds and 5-of-7 shooting from the field (including 2 of 4 from three). Strong on the ball, too.

What It Means: Bona's 10-7 overall and 3-2 in the A-10. They're 7-1 at the Reilly Center.

Next Up: The Bonnies travel to Rhode Island Wednesday to face former coach Jim Baron, who's on the hot seat. Road wins are hard to come by. The Bonnies need this one.

-- Bob DiCesare

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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare | bdicesare@buffnews.com


Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic began his journalism career in 1989 after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and has worked for The Buffalo News since 2001. A proud father of four children, he enjoys reading in his spare time.

@RodneyMcKissic | rmckissic@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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