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Big 4 Hoops Chat

Bona ranked No. 22

And the charmed season continues. The St. Bonaventure women's basketball team broke into the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in Big 4 history last week. This week, voters moved them up three spots, to No. 22.

The Bonnies have won 13 straight games -- a program record -- and are 11-0 in the Atlantic 10 after road wins at UMass and Dayton. And that win at Dayton was rather impressive. It's one of those games on the A-10 schedule easily pegged for a Bona loss. Dayton historically is a solid program and UD Arena is an incredibly tough place to play. It would have been a loss with no shame, really.

Only this Bona team really doesn't seem to care for losing.

Bona started the game slow and found itself quickly down by 15 points, 19-4. They chipped way and came back to trail by just one, 29-28, at halftime. It was senior Megan Van Tatenhove who scored with 23 seconds left to give the Bonnies 56-55 win on Saturday.

The Bonnies have three games left in the regular season, two of them at home. They host Xavier at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Fordham at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22.

--- Amy Moritz

Manuel leaves UB for UConn

UConn has called a 10:15 a.m. news conference Monday to announce the hiring of UB athletics director Warde Manuel.

UB President Satish Tripathi is making the UB Council aware of Manuel’s decision tonight and will issue a statement offering his congratulations to Manuel and announcing the school’s intention to initiate a national search for a new athletic director.

Manuel has been at UB the last six years and is taking over a UConn program that won a national championship in men’s basketball last spring but will not be eligible for the 2013 tournament because of APR issues.

"We are incredibly proud and thrilled that Warde will be joining the Husky family," UConn President Susan Herbst said. "UConn is one of the great American universities and our athletics program is the envy of many.

"It's because of this that we were able to attract an amazing pool of candidates from across the nation -- and an ideal, stand-out candidate of Warde's exceptionally high caliber. He will play the integral, and even transformational, role in the future of UConn athletics. It's a great day for this university."

UB-Western Michigan Game Analysis

UB 59, Western Michigan 57

How UB Won: Solid student support helped push the crowd total to more than 4500 and might well have been a factor at the finish. Western Michigan's Matt Stainbrook stepped to the line at the student end with 1.1 seconds left needing one to tie and two to win. He left both on the front rim and the Bulls completed their sweep of the West to run their winning streak to eight games.

Player of the Game: Mitchell Watt didn't seem himself in the first half but finished with 16 points, eight boards and six blocks. He short hook over Stainbrook made it 56-52 with 4:48 remaining and was UB's last field goal until Filzen's winner with 11.4 seconds on the clock.

Player of the Game II: Stainbrook is an interesting specimen -- a 6-foot-9, 290-pounder with a Kurt Rambis look to him and amazing agility for his size. He had 15 points (on 7 of 9 from the field), 11 boards and will be terrorizing the West for another two years. He's only a sophomore.

Stat of the Game: UB missed seven straight free throws beginning with 6:39 left and ending when Dave Barnett made the second of two with three-tenths of a second left. That kind of performance will get you knocked out of the tournament in a hurry.

Stat of the Game II: UB became just the third East school to sweep a season series against the West. Kent and Akron have done it multiple times. In fact, Kent has won 30 straight against the West dating to 2007.

They Said It . . .

Western coach Steve Hawkins on the new playoff format: "I like it and I don't like it. This is going to sound incredibly self-serving here in a minute but keep in mind that I said it before we ever got into this season too. I love the format in terms of it being the double-bye for the top two seeds. . . . I think it's deserved if you can get through this league. And the thing that's so dangerous, I've been in it now 12 years, you'd hate to see a team get No. 1 seed and then get knocked out in the first or second round, and that's very possible in this league. . . . Now the recommendation that we coaches made and moved forward that I didn't even realized didn't get passed until earlier this week, was that the division winner would get no worse than a 4 seed. Now we recommended that back in our fall meeting, spring meeting, I don't remember know which one it was. We recommended if you win your division that's worth something. Now whoever wins the West ... it's going to be very difficult for them to get all the way to a 4 seed."

Zach Filzen on sweeping the West: "I think it's big. Obviously in this conference it's such a battle you need to play well every single night to get a win."

Titus Robinson on the sweep: "I say it's huge. While we're going through the West we have to go on the road and play in some tough environments. This is the first time we've done it and we wanted to make history and we have."

UB Coach Reggie Witherspoon: "We knew this was going to be a challenge because they're good at one of the things we're really good at, which is rebounding."

What It Means: The Bulls remain alone in second place in the overall standing, a game behind Akron and one ahead of Kent.

In the House: A nice crowd of 4,561 at Alumni and a show of force by the student body.

Next Up: The Bulls finish up MAC play with five straight against the East beginning Tuesday at Kent.

-- Bob DiCesare

St. Bonaventure-Duquesne game analysis

St. Bonaventure 69, Duquesne 48

How Bona Won: By attacking the glass. The Bonnies outrebounded the Dukes, 48-26, and pulled down 21 offensive rebounds, which they turned into 22 points. They also locked things down defensively in the second half, limiting the Dukes to just 28 percent shooting (7 of 25) after halftime. It helped that they took better care of the ball, too. Bona made just five turnovers in the second half.

Player of the Game: Bona star Andrew Nicholson. His 21-point, 23-rebound performance is the first time since Dec. 22, 1967 that a player has put up a 20-20. The last to do it? Bob Lanier, who had 34 points and 27 rebounds against Loyola (Md.). Lanier is the only player in Bonnies history to have more than 23 rebounds in a game (his most was 27). Nicholson passed Fred Crawford to move into fifth on the Bonnies' career rebounding list with 790.

Play of the Game: Demitrius Conger finished off a baseline drive to the basket with a violent, two-handed dunk that gave Bona a 35-23 lead with 3:41 left in the first half and sent the Reilly Center fans into a frenzy.

Unsung Hero: Chris Johnson came off the bench to score 12 of his 15 points in the first half, sparking a Bona team that had fallen behind, 7-2, just two minutes in.

Stat of the Game: Bona's 21 offensive rebounds were a season high and the most they've come down with since finishing with 24 against Canisius on Nov. 29, 2008.

Home Cooking: Bona improved to 9-1 in the Reilly Center and 5-0 against league opponents. They've beaten their A-10 counterparts by an average of 19.6 points per game in those wins. Perhaps that's why coach Mark Schmidt said in his postgame press conference that he wished his team could play 29 home games.

He Said It: "Probably in my dreams," Nicholson, when asked the last time he had a 20-rebound game.

He Said It II: "We dominated physically. We were bigger and stronger and we needed to take advantage of it."

In the House: 4,505 including students dressed as a hot dog, a lucha libre and Superman.

What It Means: The Bonnies moved into fifth place in the A-10 with a 6-4 league record, a game out of the coveted top four. Those teams receive automatic byes into the A-10 Tournament quarterfinals in Atlantic City, N.J.

Next Up: The biggest game of the season against Temple, at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Reilly Center. The game will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network. Win it, and a top-four finish starts to look very promising for the Bonnies.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

UB-Western Michigan live

End of Game: UB wins, 59-57, for its eighth win in a row. Barnett made the second free throw and the Broncos couldn't get a shot off in time. Matt Stainbrook looked like he was about to cry in the handshake line.  

0.3 seconds left in the second half: Stainbrook short on the second free throw with the UB student section going bonkers. Dave Barnett rebounds and gets fouled. He goes to the line, but Western Michigan calls timeout.

Make that 1.1 seconds left. Officials added time. UB still ahead, 58-57, after Stainbrook short on the first free throw. Timeout as both benches set up for possible play after the next free throw. 

00.4 seconds left in the second half: Zach Filzen nailed a 12-footer from the right elbow to make it 58-57, UB. Mitchell Watt blocked Mike Douglas at the other end, but Matt Stainbrook grabbed the rebound and was fouled on the attempted putback. Watt fouled out on the play. Two free throws for Stainbrook, a 63 percent foul shooter.  

20.7 seconds left in the second half: This is looking like the type of game that could take UB out of a tournament. They trail now, 57-56. They've missed six straight free throws. They ran the clock down too low on a possesion. They just allowed Mike Douglas to squeeze into the lane for a three-point play that put W. Mich. back in the lead. Let's see what Reggie comes up with.  

40-.6:  UB still ahead, 56-54. I hate it when coaches have their team run the clock down late in games, especially in college. Too often, all it achieves is a forced shot late in the shot clock. Sure enough, with the clocking expiring, Zach Filzen threw up a 28-foot brick and W. Michigan rebounded.

1:21 left in the second half: Robinson missed both, but Dave Barnett chased down the rebound.

1:22 left in the second half: Flenard Robinson fouls out on a feed to the low block to Titus Robinson. Robinson, who has missed his last three free throws, is at the line.

1:30 left in the second half: UB, 56-54. Matt Stainbrook scored down low for the Broncos to break the drought and make it a two-point game. Reggie Witherspoon called timeout and it's UB ball with 1:30 to go.

2:05 left in the second half: UB clinging to a 56-52 lead. That means no scoring since my last offering. Mitchell Watt picked up his fourth foul on a rebound. Flenard Whitfield missed a free throw. Titus Robinson missed two freebies at the other end. Watt altered a shot, but on the ensuing possession turned it over.

3:56 left in the second half: UB has moved ahead, 56-52. Tony Watson swished a 24-footer from the top of the key to make it 54-50. Flenard Whitfield snaked in for a bucket and drew Javon McCrea's fourth foul. Whitfield missed the foul shot, but the Broncos got the rebound. The Mitchell Watt pinned Whitfield's layup attempt for his fifth block of the night. Watt then hit a short jumper at the other end. UB regained possession and McCrea fouled out on a somewhat dubious call. McCrea bumped Matt Stainbrook and the 6-9, 290-pound hulk flopped and got the call. Ah, those MAC officials. Watt, who had one point at halftime, now has 16, along with seven rebounds and five blocks.

6:11 left in the second half. Bulls lead, 51-50. Auraum Nuiriankh hit two free throws to nudge the Bulls back into the lead, 50-49. Then Mitchell Watt hit one free throw to make it 51-49. Flenard Whitfield got fouled by Titus Robinson under the hoop and made one of two free throws to make it 51-50.

9:34 left in the second half: Western Michigan leads, 49-46. UB went on a 7-0 run to tie it on a Tony Watson jumper. But Mitchell Watt threw the ball about six feet over the UB bench on the following possession, then Austin Richie hit a three at the other end to give the Broncos the edge.


10:47 left in the second half: UB trails, 46-44, but has made a nice run in the last couple of minutes after falling behind by seven. Zach Filzen hit a three-pointer after Javon McCrea grabbed an offensive board to make it 46-42. Then Mitchell Watt, who has 10 points in the second half, hit a hook from the left baseline on the fastbreak. Watt then drew a rebounding foul at the other end. McCrea leads UB with 14 points. Wat has 11. Demetrius Ward has 12 points on four three-point bombs for the Broncos.

1611 left in the second half: Did someone say 'tenuous'? Western Michigan has taken its first lead, 37-35, after scoring 14 points in the first 3:49 of the half. Mitchell Watt scored UB's first eight points of the half on a three-point play, a hook and a three-point shot. But Demetrius Ward hit a couple of three's to pull the Broncos ahead -- the last after stripping Watt out high and pulling up alone on the break for behind the arc. Let's see if UB finds its defensive intensity again.

Halftime: UB has a tenuous 27-23 lead over Western Michigan. Not an efficient first half on the offensive end, aside from sophomore forward Javon McCrea. McCrea had 12 points and a couple of nice inside feeds for baskets. Mitchell Watt, who will be featured in tomorrow's column, has just one point. Watt's season low is nine points. Could it be the dreaded Sully jinx? UB is winning with its reliable defense. Western is just 9 of 33 from the field for 27.3 percent. If this keeps up, the Bulls might move up even higher in the national rankings for field-goal defense. They're currently eighth in the land, limiting opponents to 37.7 percent from the floor.

Senior forward Titus Robinson, who has contributed some valuable performances off the bench this season, has seven points and four boards for 'UB. Watt, who is tied for 16th in the country in blocked shots, has three rejections. Matt Stainbrook has nine point off the bench to lead the Broncos.

--- Jerry Sullivan

1:22 left in the first:  UB leads, 27-20. Titus Robinson scored on a nice feed from Javon McCrea, who has been the best player on the floor tonight.

3:52 left in the first half: UB still ahead, 21-17. But the Bulls have been sloppy over the past several minutes in a game that won't win any beauty awards. Javon McCrea has 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting for the Bulls. The rest of the fellas are 3-for-16. Mitchell Watt, their second-leading scorer, has just one point. But Watt has two blocked shots and has altered three others. That's the sign of a good team. They can win when they're not shooting well. UB hasn't allowed a team to shoot 38 percent in its last five games. Of course, they're eighth in the country in field-goal defense at 37.7 percent for the year.

7:58 left in the first. UB leads, 17-12. At the Western Michigan shootaround today, I was struck by the sight of a 6-9, 290-pound guy who looked like a bulked-up version of Dwight from The Office. He had these goofy black glasses and long, curly hair. He was high-fiving his teammates during layup drills. I wondered if the guy was some walk-on. Wrong. Matt Stainbrook is the Broncos' leading scorer. The sophomore from Bay Village, Ohio, averages 12.0 points and 6.6 rebounds off the bench. He has a nice touch and actually moves well for a man his size. Stainbrook has scored six points in the last three minutes to keep W. Michigan close. Behind me in the stands, some older guys are calling  him "Kurt Rambis." Jeremy Lin one night, Matt Stainbrook the next. You gotta love hoops.  

11:54 left in the first: UB in front, 14-4. Javon McCrea made a pretty lefty scoop in the lane. McCrea has really been solid in his sophomore season. Maybe being the last cut from the national under-19 team last summer was good for him. I'm told he came back without an ego and has been a big part of the UB chemistry. People are calling this the closest team Reggie Witherspoon has had. 

13:28 left in the first:  UB leads, 12-4. Western Michigan still struggling to score, obviously, against the nation's eighth-ranked field goal defense. The skeptic in me wonders if the Bulls might get complacent and let the Broncos -- who have lost their last two in OT -- back in the game.

14:45: All right, I watched every second of the Knicks game last night. Jeremy Lin is one of the great stories to come along in sports in years. He came out of nowhere and within days, he's almost as big a story as the Giants in New York City. It was great texting with all my old New York buddies last night. Even the cynics can't find anything bad to say about it.

15:35 left in the first half: UB leads, 9-2. An early demonstration of the suffocating Bulls defense that has lifted them to a seven-game winning streak and made them one of the favorites to win the league. Western Michigan has been utterly helpless trying to establish an inside game. The Broncos are 1-for-8 from the floor. UB has five points from Zach Filzen and four from Javon McCrea. Jarod Oldham has three assists.

16:03 left in the first: Bulls off to early 7-2 lead on two buckets by Javon McCrea and a three by Zach Filzen. It's easy to see why UB is eighth in the nation in defensive field-goal percentage. Senior Mitchell Watt -- subject of my column tomorrow -- has blocked one shot and altered three others.

Here at Alumni Arena for the UB game against Western Michigan. Fired up for my first game on press row this season. The Bulls are riding a seven-game winning streak and are currently second in the MAC East -- which would be good enough for a bye straight to the semifinals of the conference tournament.

--- Jerry Sullivan

 

 

Live from the Reilly Center: Bona vs. Duquesne

Live from the Koessler Center

Sorry for the late start. Had some issues connecting to the wireless here at Canisius. Huge assist to Canisius SID Matt Reitnour, who supplied us with access to wireless card since my laptop refused to connect to the arena one.

Final score: Siena 60-50 triumph. Siena led by 19 with 3:30 left but just hit cruise button at that point with its roster of six relaxing down the stretch.

Second half

15:56 left. Media timeout. Siena leads 41-26.

Not much going for Canisius. Doesn't say much when team with just six players on shortened roster due to injury and eligibility issues. Still, Siena did almost beat Niagara the other night, losing by four points.

 Canisius takes timeout with 13:56 left. Trailing, 43-28. At least the Griffs snapped scoreless drought of 8:20 that saw a close game start to get away from Griffs.

10:43 left: Another timeout Canisius as it trails, 47-30. side note, Siena has only committed seven fouls this game. Canisius should be attacking basket and trying to draw fouls on short-handed roster but for whatever reason it's not happening.

8:49 left: Another timeout Canisius. Down 52-33.

7:42 left: Canisius down 52-35.

2:50 left: Washington hits a couple shots for Canisius but at this point it doesn't matter. Siena leads, 60-43

First half

11:28 left: Siena leads 15-12. Gaby Belardo is playing for the Griffs after missing Thursday night's loss to Rider with back issues. OD Anosike has seven of Siena's points up to this point. ALshwan Hymes has hit two treys and has six points.

7:59 left: In case anyone missed it, Gaby Belardo makes sures the Griffs faithful knows he's in the lineup. Belardo cans three three-pointers and scores on steal and layup for 11 points in span of 3:29 (also known as in between media timeouts). Griffs lead, 23-22.

3:53 left: Siena back in front 29-24. Belardo just missed another trey with one going in and out. Siena's Kyle Downey steal and layup part of a 7-1 run there. Brandon Walters with three of those points for Siena.

Siena LEADS 37-26 at halftime. Other than a brief lift the Griffs received from just over three minute stretch from Belardo (11 points), not much going for Canisius, which I guess should be surprising considering the Griffs have lost eight in a row.

Belardo leads Canisius with 13 points. Alshwan Hymes has eight. For Siena, Kyle Downey has 13 points and OD Anoiske has nine.

 

---Miguel Rodriguez

Rider-Niagara live blog

UB to play at Ohio State in 2013

---UB has announced it will play at Ohio State on Sept. 21, 2013.

This will be the first meeting between the Bulls and Buckeyes and UB will receive a guarantee of $1 million. The meeting with the Buckeyes will be Buffalo's sixth against current Big Ten members. The Bulls have previously played against Michigan (1901), Iowa (2003), Minnesota (2002), Penn State (1900, 2007) and Wisconsin (2006).

The game against Ohio State also wraps up Buffalo's non-conference slate for that season. Buffalo will also travel to Baylor on Sept. 7, 2013 and will host Stony Brook (Sept. 14) and Connecticut (Sept. 28) in 2013.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

 

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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


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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