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Bona-Saint Louis Game Wrap

SAINT LOUIS 67, BONA 57

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.

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UB-Niagara Game Wrap

UB 77, Niagara 67

How UB Won: Javon McCrea, coming off a career-high 31 points at Milwaukee Wednesday, was held without a field goal for the first time in his career. Not to worry. Will Regan went 11 over his career high, scoring 26, punishing the Purple Eagles from inside and out.

Turning Point: UB never trailed and Niagara never went away until Regan hit his third three of the night from the corner with 3:17 left. That put UB on top, 66-58.

Player of the Game: You've probably figured it out by now.

Best Supporting Role: Point guard Jarod Oldham continues to evolve into a scoring threat. He had a career-high 20 against St. Bonaventure on Dec. 1 and went for 18 against the Purple Eagles. He was 5 of 10 from the field, 8 of 13 from the line and overcame five turnovers with seven assists.

White Returns: Fifth-year senior transfer Devon White not only suited up for the first time this year, he was in Niagara's starting lineup. White, a 6-foot-8, 240-pounder from La Salle, had been out since suffering an Achilles tendon injury over the summer. He played 23 minutes and had four points, five rebounds and two blocks.

Missing: Niagara was without forward Joe Thomas and guard Marvin Jordan. Thomas returned home because of the death of his grandmother. Jordan missed his second straight game with a groin injury.

What It Means: UB is 4-7 and on its first winning streak of the season. Niagara is 3-6 and still looking for its first back-to-back wins.

Gamesmanship: Niagara coach Joe Mihalich "established a rapport" with the officials in the early going, prompting Reggie Witherspoon to comment to a passing referee, "If he's going to stand up and referee, I'm going to stand up and referee." The fouls were about even late in the half, but Mihalich apparently objected to sto a call with 38.7 seconds left, was hit with a technical, and UB turned the foul and the "T" into four points and a 37-28 halftime lead.

In the House: Attendance numbered 4,012.

They Said It:
"I didn't use any bad language. I didn't use the magic word. I didn't throw my coat in the stands. -- Mihalich on his "T".

"I actually felt good out there, especially coming off an injury like I had. I would love to get back out there again and keep helping my team. All in all, it's great to be out there back on the court supporting my team." -- White on coming back off his injury.

"it's important to have another person out there that can shoot that shot (the three). It opens the court and that's what we've been working on. I think that fits right into Will's strengths, running the court." -- Witherspoon on the Bulls offensive emergence.

"With us opening the floor, that really helps out a lot. You can't really throw three guys down on Javon. You can't have two or three guys sagging in there because Tony (Watson) is hitting shots and Will is hitting shots." -- Oldham

"Seriously, it's been a while since I've gotten meaningful minutes in a game." -- Regan, who played sparingly his freshman year at Virginia and sat out last year as a transfer.

Next Up: UB is off until it visits Washington State on Dec. 21. Niagara plays four of its next five at home beginning with Hartford on Wednesday night.

-- Bob DiCesare

Bona-UB Game Wrap

St. Bonaventure 82, UB 79

How Bona Won: Defense. The Bonnies turned 19 UB turnovers into 21 points, including the winning basketball by Matthew Wright with 24.6 seconds left. That was followed by a Marquise Simmons deflection that sealed the outcome. And it all began with a Demitrius Conger steal and dunk with 1:02 to go.

Turning Point: Wright's steal of a Tony Watson pass with the shot clock growing lean sent him away on the layup that gave Bona the lead for good.

Player of the Game: Conger set a season-high with 20 points to go with four assists and two steals.

Turnaround: That 39-point performance against Temple Wednesday seemed like eons ago as UB shot 47 percent in scoring a season-high 79 points and went 13 of 24 from long range.

Numbers-Wise: Bona had more points in the paint (36-24), off turnovers (21-11) and on the fast break (23-4).

What It Means: Bona's off to a 4-2 start. UB's just 2-7 but finally showing signs of offensive life,

On the Outskirts: UB junior guard Corey Raley-Ross started, committed two turnovers in two minutes and didn't see the court again. Freshman guard Jarryn Skeete played 15 minutes to help pick up the slack.

Limited: Javon McCrea played only six first-half minutes because of fouls. He finished with 13 points and a game-high 11 boards.

He Said It:

"I thought we showed a little more willingness to step in and shoot some shots but we didn't sustain that willingness to the end of the game and we had some hesitation at the end." -- UB coach Reggie Witherspoon.

"We showed some resiliency fighting back when we were down. But it was a great college game. Give them credit. They played well and someway we found a way to win." -- Bona coach Mark Schmidt.

Up Next: Bona plays host to Siena Tuesday night in a made-for-TV 9 p.m. start. UB travels to Milwaukee Wednesday looking to snap a five-game losing streak against Division I foes.

-- Bob DiCesare

Video: Niagara women's basketball coach happy with team's components

Bona Extends Schmidt's Contract

You knew it was coming . . .

St. Bonaventure's improbable journey to the Atlantic 10 basketball title and its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2000 has resulted in a five-year contract extension for coach Mark Schmidt. The deal ties Bona to Schmidt through the 2018-19 season, although certainly there's buyout language in the event Schmidt down the road accepts an offer from another institution.

"I'm happy we were able to reach a long-term agreement and give men's basketball at St. Bonaventure the security and continuity it deserves," athletic director Steve Watson said in a statement released by the school this afternoon. "Mark and his staff have done a terrific job with the program on the court, in the classroom, on campus and in the community. We look forward to their continued success."

"I'm pleased and honored by the commitment the University made to me and my staff," Schmidt said in the news release. "The players that my staff has successfully recruited the previous five years have brought our program back to prominence. We fully expect to continue building on the tradition of excellence and doing it the right way in years to come."

Financial terms were not disclosed. Schmidt made about $300,000 a year in his original contract. He was Sporting News Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year following Bona's first 20-win season since 2000.

-- Bob DiCesare



Battle Staying Put

UB assistant basketball coach Turner Battle just got back to me to make it known he's not taking the job at UNC-Greensboro.

-- Bob DiCesare

Battle Leaving UB?

Could Turner Battle be leaving UB's basketball coaching staff?

Sources say that Battle has had discussions with UNC-Greensboro coach Wes Miller about becoming an assistant with the Spartans. Miller last month signed a five-year deal with the school, and Battle hails from Kernersville, N.C., about 20 minutes away.

Battle, one of UB's all-time playing greats and a member of the school's hall of fame, has spent five years as an assistant to Bulls head coach Reggie Witherspoon.

-- Bob DiCesare

Canisius makes Baron hiring official

Canisius College this afternoon confirmed it has hired Jim Baron as its next men's basketball coach.

"I am extremely pleased to introduce Jim Baron as our men's basketball coach," Canisius Athletic Director Bill Maher said in a press release issued by the school. "In naming Jim to this position, we have hired a man who has a proven track record of building successful basketball programs and developing young men. He is excited to return to Western New York to lead the Canisius College basketball program."

Baron has plenty of experience in the Big 4. He's a 1977 graduate of St. Bonaventure who coached at his alma mater for nine years (1992-2001), making one of his two career NCAA Tournament appearances with the Bonnies (in 2000). Baron went on to coach for the past 11 years at Rhode Island, leading the Rams to five NIT appearances and a 184-165 overall record.

Baron's hiring was first reported Sunday night by cbssportsline.com, although it wasn't made official by the school until this afternoon.

Baron, 58, will be introduced at a press conference at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Koessler Athletic Center. The coach, who was fired from Rhode Island last month after a 7-24 season, signed a five-year contract. He has an overall career record of 390-367 in 25 years as a Division I coach.

Prior to his time at Bona, he coached St. Francis (Pa.) for five seasons, including his other NCAA Tournament appearance, in 1991.

"This is a great day for Canisius College basketball," school president John J. Hurley said in a release. "Jim Baron has demonstrated throughout his career that it is possible to match success on the court with success in the classroom. He has been a positive influence in the lives of hundreds of young men, and I'm tremendously excited about the prospect of working with Jim to restore Golden Griffin basketball to glory."

Baron takes over for Tom Parrotta, who was fired last month after a 5-25 season. The Griffs do return all five starters from that team.

Baron and his wife, Cindy, have two sons: Jimmy, a 2009 graduate of URI who played for his father, and Billy, who just completed his sophomore season with the Rams.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Source: Baron offered Canisius job

---Former St. Bonaventure coach Jim Baron has been offered the job at Canisius multiple sources have told The News.

Baron, who was fired after 11 years at Rhode Island, is in negotiations with the school and is seeking additional funds for assistant coaches to help build a stronger infrastructure in the program.

While waiting on a commitment from Baron, Canisius AD Bill Maher is still talking to candidates in case Baron turns down the job. A source told The News that Maher on Wednesday spoke with Jayson Gee, the associate head coach at Cleveland State and former a St. Bonaventure assistant.

Baron, who coached at St. Bonaventure from 1992-01, had four consecutive 20-win seasons at Rhode Island before last season’s 7-24 finish and was fired a year after he agreed to a contract extension through the 2013-14 season. He has a career record of 390-367 (.515).

Norfolk State's Anthony Evans and Rhode Island College's Bob Walsh are also candidates, according to sources.

---Rodney McKissic

(twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Canisius coaching search update

---Canisius College placed as 4-6 week window to hire Tom Parrotta’s replacement and the process appears to be on schedule.

Canisius AD Bill Maher, with the help of Bill Carr Associates, is narrowing his list of candidates, which includes former St. Bonaventure coach Jim Baron, according to multiple sources. The list also includes Norfolk State’s Anthony Evans and Bob Walsh, the former San Diego and Iona assistant now at Division III Rhode Island College, according to sources. All have head coaching experience which Maher desires.

Baron, who coached at St. Bonaventure from 1992-01, had four consecutive 20-win seasons at Rhode Island before last season’s 7-24 finish and was fired a year after he agreed to a contract extension through the 2013-14 season. He has a career record of 390-367 (.515).

After leading Norfolk State to its first MEAC championship, Evans led the school to an upset win over Missouri in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. A native of Brooklyn, Norfolk State has seven New York natives on its roster.

Walsh just completed his seventh season at RIC where he’s made seven consecutive trips to the postseason and six straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

---Rodney McKissic

(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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