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Saint Peter's-Canisius game analysis

Game analysis: On a sloppy night where Canisius gave up far too many offensive rebounds against a pesky bunch from Saint Peter's, Billy Baron came to the rescue by scoring eight points in overtime to lead the Golden Griffins to a 77-65 triumph over the Peacocks.

How Canisius won: The Griffs made plays down the stretch, like Baron's 3-pointer in regulation. They held Saint Peter's to four points in the extra period and forced three turnovers.

Turning Point: The Peacocks scored the first points in overtime, then Harold Washington and Isaac Sosa banged in a pair of 3-pointer to put the Griffs ahead for good.

Player of the Game: Baron finished with 23 points with four assists and no turnovers.

Unsung player of the game: In 39 minutes, Washington was 8 of 14, 3 of 3 from long range, for 22 points.

Key stat: Canisius had seven steals.

What It Means: After winning one conference game last season, Canisius is still in the hunt for the MAAC regular season title with the regular season finale against Rider on Saturday remaining. They need some help from outside sources - mainly Niagara University and Loyola (Md.) - but no one expected Canisius to compete for a league title in the preseason.

In the House: 1,483.

He said it: "I'm shocked we don't have sellouts, I'm just perplexed. What do the kids need to do to sell the place out? There's only one game left. ... This is college basketball at its finest." - Canisius coach Jim Baron.

Up next: Canisius ends the regular season with a game Saturday against Rider, who upset Niagara on Thursday. Rider and Canisius are currently tied for third place in the MAAC standings a game behind first place Niagara.

---Rodney McKissic

Niagara-Rider Game Wrap

Rider 68, Niagara 59

How Rider Won: Very rarely will you see a team come into the Gallagher Center and better Niagara's toughness. The Broncs did it. They challenged everything on the defensive end, and the physical style made it a miserable night for Niagara scoring leader Antoine Mason (7 points, 1 of 12 from the field). Rider also got big threes from Tommy Pereira and Jonathon Thompson during a 13-0 second-half run that settled the issue.

Player of the Game: Thompson, a senior who averages 12.5 points, was sensational. He killed Niagara off the drive, buried three treys and got to the foul line nine times while scoring 25 points. That's one shy of his career high.

Best Supporting Role: Junior forward Daniel Stewart owned the inside and scored 14 points to go with 14 rebounds.

Best Player (Losing Effort): Juan'ya Green did everything to keep Niagara close, scoring 27 points. No one else reached double figures.

Stat Check: Points in the paint favored Rider, 34-22.

Stat Check II: Only four of Niagara's 20 field goals were assisted.

Stat Check III: Niagara's comeback effort was undermined by its free throw shooting -- 10 of 19 in the second half.

What It Means: Niagara remains in first place, a half-game ahead of Loyola, but will need a Loyola loss this weekend to have a chance at the title. Rider remains tied with Canisius for third, a half-game behind Loyola.

In the House: There were 1,948 at the Taps.

They Said It

Juan'ya Green on Niagara's frustration: "We shouldn't have got that way. We started talking to each other and started getting frustrated at each other. It shouldn't have got that way. We should have just came together and played through it."

Mihalich: "I'm not going to publicly call anybody out but our interior defense was . . . Stewart did whatever he wanted. I mean, Stewart just did whatever he wanted."

Rider coach Kevin Baggett: "I'd say we match up well with those guys. We have a number of guys that can sit down and play defense and match up, and we do a good job preparing for this group. When it comes down to conference play everybody kind of knows what different teams are going to run, it just comes down to executing and we've done a better job in terms of trying to stop them being able to get to where they need to get to on the court and what they're looking to get out of their offense as well."

Next Up: Niagara finishes out the regular season hosting Saint Peter's at 3 p.m. Saturday. Rider moves on to Canisius for a 2 p.m. game. The winner of that one finishes no worse than third in the final standing.

-- Bob DiCesare

WNY College Sports Chat - 3 p.m.

Live chat at 2 p.m.: Big 4 basketball with Bob DiCesare

Niagara-Northwestern State Game Wrap

Niagara 92, Northwestern State 76

How Niagara Won: By solving the pressure defense that has stymied so many other Demon opponents. By making virtually eveything they launched at the basket. After 20 tentative minutes the Purple Eagles went on a second-half blitz during which they went 20 of 30 from the field and hammered 8 of 10 threes. It might have been their best passing game of the year, too. They had assists on 19 of 30 baskets and eight players had at least one.

Player of the Game: Split this one down the middle and give halves to Juan'ya Green and Antoine Mason. Both scored 20 points. Green also had seven assists while Mason's six rebounds were second to teammate Devon White's eight.

Best Supporting Role: Split this one as well between Ameen Tanksley and T.J. Cline. Both had 12 points. Tanksley was 4 of 5 from the field, 3 of 4 from behind the arc and grabbed five rebounds and two steals. Cline went 5 of 6 and 2 of 3 from long range.

Stat Check: Not only did the Purple Eagles score 61 second-half points, they outrebounded the Demons by eight after intermission.

Stat Check II: Niagara was 20 of 29 in the second half until walk-on Lawrence Johnson missed a late jumper. Lot of nerve.

Milestone: Mason reached 1,000 career points on a three with 9:34 left in the game. Thave gives Niagara two sophomores over 1,000, Green being the other.

What It Means: Not much in the overall scheme. They can call it a BracketBuster but there will be no at-large bids doled out to the MAAC or the Southland. 

In the House: There were 1,704 for this ESPNU game.

Next Up: Big conference games await both. Niagara has take the MAAC title with season-ending home wins against Rider and Saint Peter's. Northwestern heads off to its big showdown with co-leader Stephen F. Austin.

They Said It

NWS Coach Mike McConathy: "Just got beat by a really good basketball team that had an exceptional day. Felt like the turning point in the game, at 44-43 . .. we had about five empty possessions where we were right at the goal and don’t finish. I felt like at that point our kids got a little frustrated and y’all came down and scored each and every time."

McConathy: "I think it’s really good to play in another area of the country to where you go into a game and you’re just playing and you’re not thinking about all the other stuff. I thought the timing for us personally ... wasn’t totally bad. And part of it may have been my fault because I felt like we needed to work to get better today. Sure, I wanted to win the ballgame. But we didn’t get better today. But we did get something out of it from the standpoint of now I can re-focus, re-energize them and get them where they need to be for next Saturday at Stephen F. Austin."

Antoine Mason: "The first half I had to shake off the rust. There was two options. I could have sulked about the first half or just let the game come to me and know that I could actually score and play. So the second half I just let the game come to me and I trusted my teammates."

Niagara coach Joe Mihalich: "I thought we made good decisions. Our battle cry throughout the week against this team was . . . to be quick but not hurry. That’s what they want out of their press -- make you be fast, make you be out of control, take the shot that they didn’t want you to take. And we didn’t do that. We made the extra pass. We were under control against their pressure. We kind of carved it up I thought. We did a pretty good job against that press."

-- Bob DiCesare

Niagara-Northwestern St. Pregame

Some interesting facts about Northwestern State as we close in on an hour before tipoff:

** The Demons lead the nation in scoring and possessions per game.

** They've had 10 players score in double figures this year and six lead the team in single-game scoring.

** Coach Mike McConathy was hired to coach his father's alma mater in March of 1999. His dad, Johnny, was the No. 5 pick in the 1951 NBA draft (Syracuse).

** Notre Dame coach Mike Brey is an NSU alum.

** Three of McConathy's former assistant have head jobs -- Dave Simmons at McNeese St., Mark Slessinger at New Orleans and Buzz Williams at Marquette.

-- Bob DiCesare

Bona-Dayton Game Wrap

by Amy Moritz

Dayton 67, St. Bonaventure 63

Dayton led by as many as 15 points in the second half and by as many as 13 in the final minute but the Bonnies showed a gritty, gutsy performance -- the first of its kind this season for a full 40 minutes to give the No. 14 Flyers all they could handle. Dayton hit some key buckets in the final minutes to keep pace with a crazy scoring pace from the Bonnies to close out the game. Don't call it a moral victory for the Bonnies, but that was the first true 40 minutes of St. Bonaventure basketball we've seen this season.

Key stat: Dayton won the battle of the boards, 50-35. The Flyers had 20 offensive rebounds and turned them into 24 second chance points.

Key stat II: The Bonnies hit just 12 of 20 from the free throw line.

Player of the Game: Alaina Walker. Yeah, the Bonnies lost, but the senior scored a game-high 17 points and displayed calm, cool leadership for the Bonnies on defense.

The Young Ones: Dayton is the sixth-youngest team in Division I this year and sophomores Ally Malott (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Andrea Hoover (13 points) paced the Flyers in this won. For the Bonnies, the freshmen keep getting better. Emily Michael scored all 12 of her points on three-pointers. Katie Healy had 11 ponts, eight reobunds and four blocks. Nyal Rueter scored nien points with three blocks.

What It Means: The Bonnies are still a longshot to qualify for the A-10 tournament. Dayton remained undefeated in the conference (11-0) and moved to 23-1 overall. 

In the House: There wre 503 at the Reilly Center tonight.

They Said It:

Bona junior Doris Ortega: 

“I’m saying that they probably thought they’d blow us out by 30 points. We didn’t get the win but I’m proud of my team When we were down 10 or 12 we could have rolled over and this season we have in certain games. But tonight we didn’t and that’s great to see. … We dug in and fought until the clock said zero.”

Dayton coach Jim Jabir:

“St. Bonaventure deserved to win. I’m not pleased with our team in any way. Our record is gaudy. The rankings are nice. But it doesn’t represent how we’re playing right now. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We have more work to do than I can begin to describe. … I asked my team, ‘Do you want to be good or do you want to be lucky?’ We’ve been lucky. Lucky doesn’t get you in the Sweet 16 or win a conference championship.”

Next Up: The Bonnies have three games left starting with a trip to George Washington on Sunday. They play at Fordham on Feb. 27 and finish off at home against La Salle on March 3.

Bona-UMass Game Wrap

Bona 99, UMass 94

How Bona Won: Whew. If ever a game needed a restrictor plate this was it. UMass used a press to up-tempo the second half and the Bonnies, once they acclimated, sprinted right along. The teams combined for 124 points in the second half alone and Bona finally delivered the knockout punch in a close game after narrow losses to Xavier, La Salle and Richmond.

Player of the Game: A week ago Eric Mosley's season-high stood at 21 points. He broke that by scoring a career-high 30 in the loss at Richmond Saturday. And that set the stage for . . . 39 against the Minutemen. He was sensational -- 12-18 FG, 5-8 on treys and 10-10 FTs. And he might have forced all of one shot.

Best Supporting Role: Think Bona's seniors are feeling a sense of urgency? Chris Johnson struck for a career-high 22 points and made all four crucial free throw attempts inside the final 13 seconds.

Best Performance (Losing Effort): Chaz Williams, the Minutemen's 5-9 junior point guard, is a show unto himself. He went for 26 points -- one below his season high -- and terrorized the Bonnies with his lightning-quick drives to the hoop.

Arm's length: For Youssou Ndoye, Bona's sophomore center, an arm's length seems like forever. It appeared Williams would have a clean look at a tying three with 18 seconds left by Ndoye got out to the perimeter, arm extended, and forced Williams into a high, arching shot that fell well short.

What It Means: Bona improved to 5-7 in conference, inching a half-game ahead of Dayton in the battle the 12th and final A-10 Tournament spot. And they have a road game left with the Flyers. So this one was a major score.

In the House: Student attendance has dropped considerably the last two home games. Oh well. Their loss. The crowd of 3,468 saw a game it will long remember.

Stat Check: Bona came in leading the A-10 in free throw percentage and strengthened its hold by going 32 of 33 (97 percent),

Stat Check II: UMass was whistled for 29 fouls to Bona's 19 and lost three players to disqualification. Bona knows how it feels. It had three players foul out Saturday at Richmond,

Frenzy: The two teams combined to score nine points in a 28-second stretch early in the second half.

They Said It:

UMass coach Derek Kellogg on the flagrant foul assessed Terrell Vinson with UMass up two and 1:53 remaining: "I don't question that he did it. . . . I just thought he might have got hit before that. So it was kind of a reaction when they're up on you, one of those deals."

Kellogg on if he's ever seen a team make 32 free throws: "No. Nope. I haven't."

Bona coach Mark Schmidt on Ndoye's shot-altering defense on Williams: "That's the evolution of a player. He's still learning but, yeah, that was a big play. Some way he got switched onto him and he did a really good job."

Chris Johnson on breaking through in a close game: "We just came out with an urgency. Last couple games we felt like it could have went either way with a possession down the stretch."

Johnson on the pace: "It's a lot of fun, it's a lot of stress too."

Next Up: The Bonnies already have three A-10 road wins. A chance at No. 4 comes Saturday night at Duquesne.

-- Bob DiCesare

WNY College Sports Chat - 3 p.m.

Live chat at 2 p.m.: Big 4 basketball with 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 |

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 |