March 2, 2013 - 3:03 PM
February 28, 2013 - 10:33 PM
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
February 23, 2013 - 8:00 PM
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
February 23, 2013 - 2:03 PM
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
February 20, 2013 - 10:57 PM
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
February 13, 2013 - 10:49 PM
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
February 13, 2013 - 10:00 PM
Game analysis: UB's defense made it a tough night for Toledo's Rian Pearson, the MAC's leading scorer, who was held to 10 points on 3 of 12 shooting in the Bulls' 75-60 victory on Wednesday.
How UB won: Toledo shot just 32.4 percent for the game, including 27.8 percent in the first half while the Bulls were on fire from everywhere. UB hit 51.9 percent of its shots and was 9 of 18 from long range.
Turning Point: The Rockets got within 11 points with 13:42 remaining when the Bulls pushed the lead to 20 with a 12-3 run.
Player of the Game: Coach Reggie Witherspoon says Tony Watson plays better when his mother attends the games. If he has nights like Wednesday (career-high 24 points) perhaps she should come more often.
Unsung player of the game: Javon McCrea had a double-double by halftime and finished with 14 points and a career best 16 rebounds.
Key stat: The Bulls had 16 assists and 11 turnovers.
Key stat II: McCrea led a nice UB block party with four of the team's eight rejections.
What It Means: UB is now 10-15 overall and 5-6 in the MAC.
In the House: 2,338
He said it: "I thought overall it was one of our best team defensive effort. I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping them out of the paint. I thought we kept them from getting easy baskets for the most part." - UB coach Reggie Witherspoon.
Up next: The Bulls play at Miami (Ohio) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
February 13, 2013 - 3:10 PM
Tuesday's college basketball column had an item on Adam Kemp, the Marist center who has carried the Red Foxes in a big way the last two games. It drew the following email from his mother Mary:
-- Bob DiCesare
February 10, 2013 - 7:17 PM
Game analysis: Billy Baron did allow a buzzer to decide his team's fate this time around. Billy the Kid had his stroke going early and often against rival Niagara to the tune of 33 points as Canisius avenged its last-second loss two weeks at home, 77-70, on Sunday.
How Canisius won: Showered with chants of, "Daddy's Boy," Baron made his father proud especially with all the pounding he took in a physical game. Baron missed out playing the full 40 minutes only because he sat out two after hurting his ankle. Niagara was able to dig out of a first-half hole but failed to come up with a key basket in the final minutes. Antoine Mason, the team's go-to scorer, sat out the game with an ankle injury.
Turning Point: Baron broke a tie at 64 with a layup and then Canisius ceased control of the game when Jordan Heath followed a Harold Washington miss with a two-handed jam.
Player of the Game: Can't say enough about Baron.
Unsung player of the game: Washington has been fighting a viral infection the last few days but came through with 18 points and four assists.
Key stat: The Griffs had 16 turnovers and just six assists.
Key stat II: Niagara shot just 12 of 23 from the charity stripe.
What It Means: Despite the loss, Niagara remains in first place in the MAAC at 10-4, while Canisius is in a three-way tie for second.
Long time coming: Canisius won at Niagara for the first time since Nov. 30, 2002.
Tough night: Marvin Jordan hit the winning shot to beat Canisius in their last matchup but was scoreless this time around.
Working overtime: Referee Jeff Anderson worked Sunday's game after officiating Saturday's five overtime marathon between Notre Dame-Louisville game in South Bend. When asked how much sleep he got Anderson said, "Four hours."
In the House: Green Bay Packers running back and Niagara Falls native James Stark and NU great Tyrone Lewis were among the capacity crowd of 2,400 at the Gallagher Center.
He said it: "He was leading the team and we followed." - Harold Washington on Billy Baron.
Up next: The Golden Griffins play at Loyola while the Purple Eagles travel to Marist, both on Thursday.
February 9, 2013 - 6:55 PM
UB 59, NIU 54
How UB Won: By getting to the free throw line. And that's how they almost frittered away the lead, too. The Bulls were 15 of 17 from the line before missing 5 of 6 in a stretch that began with 44.5 seconds remaining and ended when Auraum Nuiriankh made two with seven seconds left. Those misfires enabled NIU to get a shot at a tying basket inside the final 10 seconds. But it's a sign UB's running its offense with some success when free throws become part of the equation. And they were 16 of 25 to NIU's 11 of 14. There's your difference.
Player of the Game: Tony Watson hit a pair of big threes inside the final eight minutes, finished with 14 points, played 40 minutes and only turned it over once.
Best Supporting Role: Nuiriankh continues to struggle from the field (2 of 9) but his 10 rebounds were huge.
Stat Check: Javon McCrea's role in the continuity offense has him handling the ball more than most big men, which makes him prone to turnovers. He didn't have a single one Saturday. Last time that happened this season? Never.
Stat Check II: The Huskies shot 61.1 percent in the first half, the second best half of the season for a team that has five times shot under 19 percent in a half and 10 times shot 27 percent or worse.
Stat Check III: UB's bench, a strength in recent seasons, was outscored 21-4.
Snow Job: Northern Illinois had its Saturday evening flight to Chicago canceled. Instead of 90 minutes in the air they chartered a bus for the 12-hour journey back to DeKalb.
What it Means: Everyone's jockeying for position as the season moves inside the final month. The top five teams receive byes into the Cleveland portion of the MAC Tournament. The next three teams host first-round campus games against the bottom three. If the season ended now UB (9-25, 4-6) would host one of those first-round games and a tiebreaker would determine if NIU (5-17, 3-7) is on the road or at home.
In the House: Serve chicken wings and they will come. Free wings were provided as part of Saturday's promotion and the crowd of 4,136 was second to the 4,450 for the home opener against Princeton.
They Said It
NIU Coach Mark Montgomery: "Anytime you go on the road and have a shot to tie it to go overtime you have to be happy."
Montgomery: "Today we shot straight. Shooting 61 percent at halftime, I don't know if you guys followed us but a couple weeks ago we struggled putting that ball in." (The Huskies set an NCAA record with four first-half points against Eastern Michigan).
UB Coach Reggie Witherspoon on the likelihood of Jarod Oldham (wrist fracture) returning for the postseason: "After his last doctor's appointment they said 'Slim,' packed it up and went home. It was slim and none and slim left, so I think that means none."
Next Up: UB plays its final MAC crossover Wednesday night when Toledo visits Alumni Arena. The Rockets are on academic probation and ineligible for the MAC Tournament but have one of the league's more dymanic players in junior guard Rian Pearson.
-- Bob DiCesare
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About Campus Watch
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.
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.
Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, hhas 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.
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