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Source: Cline will transfer to Richmond

By Rodney McKissic

The mass exedous from Niagara in the wake of Joe Mihalich's departure continues with freshman T.J. Cline giving a verbal commitment to attend Richmond according to a source.

Cline, the son of Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, visited Charlotte last week and informed the 49ers staff on Saturday that he would attend Richmond. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Cline was named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team after averaging 7.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 33 games. He also led the Purple Eagles in 3-point shooting percentage with 33.6 percent.

Cline must sit out the 2013-14 season per NCAA transfer rules, but will have three seasons of eligibility remaining. The news comes just days after Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley joined Mihalich at Hofstra.

Bona Adds Third Recruit

By Bob DiCesare

St. Bonaventure basketball picked up its third recruit in the last 10 days today when 6-4 JUCO guard Andell Cumberbatch signed a national letter of intent. Cumberbatch, a native of East Orange, N.J., averaged 14.2 points and 8.2 rebounds last season.

"We're really impressed with the progression and improvement Andell has made in just one year," Bona coach Bona Mark Schmidt said in a university release. "He's a hard worker and his dedication and commitment has clearly yielded results. He's a great shooter who also crashes the glass hard, which is a rare combination we're looking to take advantage of right away."

The Bonnies also recently landed Xavier Smith, a 6-7 forward from Plano, Texas, and Denzell Gregg, another 6-7 forward, out of Syracuse. Both are high school recruits.


Gregg signs with Bonnies

---St. Bonaventure announced the signing of Denzel Gregg, a 6-foot-7 forward from Syracuse, who played his last two seasons at St. Thomas More Prep School in Connecticut.

Gregg helped St. Thomas to a 24-8 record and a spot in the National Prep School Tournament semifinals this past season. Gregg averaged 12 points and six rebounds a game for a balanced team that featured 10 players who received college scholarships.

“We’re most excited about Denzel's tremendous upside,” Schmidt said in a statement released by the school about the 17-year-old Gregg. “He's a long, athletic forward whose versatility will allow him to guard multiple positions at the defensive end and create mismatches on the offensive side of the ball.”

ESPN College Basketball analysts graded Gregg as one the top-125 class of 2013 forwards in the nation, and the New England Basketball Recruiting Report ranked him as the No. 22 overall prospect in his class.

An ESPN analyst had the following to say about the 195-pound senior:

“Gregg is an explosive athlete with incredible leaping ability. He's as quick off his feet as he is high above the rim, a terrific lob catcher and the type of finisher who can instantly change the momentum of a game.”

Gregg is St. Bonaventure’s first commitment this year.

---Rodney McKissic

Simmons granted sixth year

The NCAA has granted St. Bonaventure forward Marquise Simmons, a fifth-year senior from Washington, D.C., a sixth-year of eligibility according to a source.

The return of the 6-foot-8 Simmons will help ease the blow of losing Demitrius Conger, Michael Davenport, Chris Johnson, and Eric Mosley who are all seniors.

Simmons appeared in just one game last season after tearing his Achilles and made two free throws before leaving the contest. He's appeared in 27 games this season and is averaging 6.3 points and 5.1 rebounds as a reserve.

On Saturday, Simmons played 12 minutes and scored two points with five rebounds before fouling out. A few fans in the student section chanted, "One more year'' as Simmons walked to the bench. Motion granted.

---Rodney McKissic

Charlotte-St. Bonaventure game anaylsis

Game analysis: Just like last year, when it captured its first Atlantic 10 Tournament championship, St. Bonaventure is playing its best basketball in March. The Bonnies led by as many as 29 points against Charlotte and after the 49ers made a few token runs in the second half, they managed to put them away, 104-83. It is the Bonnies first three-game win streak of the season.

How St. Bonaventure won: Early 3-point shooting helped Bona to an early 22-5 lead which expanded by 29 by halftime. The second half is when Charlotte stopped sleep-walking and cut into the lead with defense, but the Bonnies never allowed the lead to dip under 16.

Turning Point: The Bonnies led 6-5 with 14:48 left in the first when Demitrius Conger jumped started a run that saw the lead grow to 17 points in a matter of minutes.

Player of the Game: Eric Mosely led the Bonnies with 23 points.

Unsung player of the game: You know when baseball teams make a trade for a left-handed pitcher in the heat of a playoff chase? Well, Mark Schmidt is bringing in Dion Wright off the bench for a late-season push and the freshman responded against Charlotte with a career-high 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting. Wright's point total prior to Saturday was 17.

No sleep 'til Brooklyn. No, really: Conger stuffed the stat sheet again with 14 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists but lately he's played 444 out of a possible 450 minutes.

Key stat: The Bonnies had 22 assists and 22 turnovers.

What It Means: With two games remaining against Dayton and Fordham in the regular season the Bonnies are currently in a three-way tie for eighth place along with Richmond and Saint Joseph's and hold the ninth seed. Richmond lost at Dayton on Saturday while Saint Joseph's won at home against Fordham.

In the House: 3,760 at the Reilly Center.

He said it: "We talk about curbing and it's an (Irish Republican Army) term about knocking a guy down, open his mouth, step on his throat and knock his teeth out. That what you try to do when you have someone down and we didn't curb 'em. We gave them life." - St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt.

Up next: at Dayton at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

---Rodney McKissic

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

Bona-La Salle Game Wrap

La Salle 69, Bona 66 (OT)

How La Salle Won: Clinging to a one-point lead, The Explorers collapsed the lane to get a key stop on Bona's Chris Johnson with 13.2 seconds left in overtime and then survived. La Salle's hot hand from beyond the arc in the first half paved the way to a 16-point lead that forced the Bonnies to expend a ton of energy to get back in it.

Player of the Game: Tyrone Garland, a Virginia Tech transfer, came off the bench to score 16 points and make three crucial free throws in the final 14 seconds of overtime. He was 5 of 10 from the field, 2 of 4 from three-point range and handed out three assists.

Best Supporting Role: Ramon Galloway had a game-high 23 points for La Salle but disappeared down the stretch and turned it over six times while playing all 40 minutes

Player of the Game (Losing Effort): The development of Bona center Youssou Ndoye continues. He turned it over four times, twice on first-half travels. But he scored 14 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots. And remember, he's really still just learning the game.

Stat Check: La Salle is now 15-1 when leading at halftime.

Stat Check II: Bona went just 2 of 13 from three against the highest-ranked perimeter defense in the A-10.

Stat Check III: Mosley stepped to the line with 2.8 seconds left in OT having made 78.1 percent of his free throws. He missed the first two then made the third, which he was trying to miss.

What It Means: Bona remains in search of that signature home-court victory after another near-miss. They've lost to VCU, Xavier, Saint Louis and La Salle at home by a combined 20 points. The win was huge for La Salle, which is among those trying to gain inside position on an at-large NCAA bid.

In the House: The crowd totaled 3,521 but the student section wasn't close to filled. What gives?

Next Up: Bona heads to Richmond Saturday.

Bona coach Mark Schmidt: "I thought for the last 30 minutes from a defensive standpoint that's the best defense that we've played all year. They're a really hard team to guard. They space you out."

Demitrius Conger on his thoughts when the final shot bounded off the rim: "That's the game."

La Salle coach John Giannini: "Obviously it was an incredibly dramatic win and a tremendously hard-fought game between two good teams. We're really fortunate. Tonight one team wasn't necessarily better than the other other than making an extra play."

-- Bob DiCesare

Duquesne-St. Bonaventure game analysis

Game analysis: Playing without junior guard Matthew Wright, St. Bonaventure brought Jordan Gathers off the bench to fill the void, and the Bonnies sizzling 3-point shooting helped keep hard-charging Duquesne at bay, 68-60.

How St. Bonaventure won: Bona was on fire from downtown and connected on 12 of 22, including 5 of 10 in the second half. The Dukes were also strong from long range, hitting 11 of 24.

Turning Point: The Bonnies closed the first half on an 8-0 run, capped by Gathers 3 before the halftime buzzer.

Player of the Game: Gathers hasn't seen a lot of minutes lately but he played 30 on Saturday and didn't miss a shot. (5-for-5, 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.

Key stat: The Bonnies were all over the glass (35-24).

What It Means: Canisius moves up to 10-10 overall and 3-4 in the A-10.

In the House: 4,991 in the RC.

He said it: "It's a heck of a league and the teams that we're playing, all the way back to N.C. State and Colorado State, are top 50 teams. I was reading the other day where other than the Big 10, the Atlantic 10 has 10 teams in the Top 100 in the RPI and that tells you everything you need to know about this league." - St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt on the A-10.

Up next: The Bonnies take the road for a game against No. 9 ranked Butler for a 7 p.m. game on Wednesday.

---Rodney McKissic

Bona-Saint Louis Game Wrap


Game Analysis: The Billikens defend the perimeter better than any team I've seen this year and took Bona's sharpshooters right out of the game. The Bonnies adjusted in the second half and struck for 34 points, but that 38-23 halftime deficit was too much to overcome.

Player of the Game: Saint Louis received production from a variety of players. Dwayne Evans had a game-high 18 points. Cody Ellis had two of his four steals late to derail Bona's comeback effort. But I loved the defensive work of junior guard Mke McCall Jr., who made life miserable to the Bonnies behind the arc. He had nine points, four rebounds and three steals.

Continue reading "Bona-Saint Louis Game Wrap" »

Bona-Xavier Game Wrap

Xavier 66, St. Bonaventure 64

Game Analysis: The Bonnies might have had this game well in hand had they done a better job on the backboards. The Musketeers torched them for 16 offensive rebounds, which they turned into 16 second-chance points. It was the noticeable difference it what was otherwise an evenly played game.

Player of the Game: Get used to seeing Semaj Christon. The freshman guard leads Xavier in scoring, and he upped his average with Wednesday's 19-point, 10-assist effort than included the winning basket with 5 seconds left. He's pudding smooth.

Bona Player of the Game: The development of Youssou Ndoye continues. The 7-foot sophomore went for a career-high 16 points. When you're scoring 16 against Xavier and 14 against the likes of North Carolina State there's a lot of potential.

What It Means: Bona (7-9, 0-3) has lost six straight for the first time since Mark Schmidt's first year as coach. Xavier (10-6, 3-0) is on a three-game winning streak after losing four in a row for the first time in more than 20 years.

Injured: Xavier was without starting point guard Dee Davis (wrist). Christon made sure they barely missed him.

Stat Check: Xavier turned it over just six times -- half of what it had been averaging in A-10 play.

In the House: There were 3,892 on hand and Buffalo native Don Criqui called the game for the CBS Sports Network.

They Said It:
Schmidt on Charlon Kloof's last-play drive to the basket: "We only needed a two, so he had the ball and he had to make a decision to go all the way to the basket or drive and kick. We got to the basket, they made a good play."

Next Up: Oh no. He comes the dreaded Philadelphia trip. The Bonnies are at Temple Saturday and follow up with Saint Joseph's on Wednesday.

-- 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 |