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Source: Witherspoon to ECC as AD

By BOB DICESARE

Former UB basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon is moving into a high-end administrative capacity at Erie Community College and will have full control of the athletic department, sources say. The news comes three months after Witherspoon, who played for and coached ECC, was relieved of his duties following 14 years at UB. Sources say current AD Peter Jerebko will remain wih the school.

Witherspoon could not immediately be reached for comment. It's believed he will join ECC as a VP and report directly to the president.

Gift wrapped for St. John's

ACHIUWA+NWORA ---Opportunity brought God's Gift Achiuwa, pictured left with his coach Alex Nwora from his home in Nigeria to ECC and that's what will take him next year to St. John's. Here's more stories about Gift from the New York Post and Daily News. Meanwhile, Washington is scrambling after losing out on Gift.

---Adam Zagoria expects Iona's Mike Glover to have a breakout year.

---Jonathan Givony, evaluates all of the early entrant decisions, while Andy Katz reacts to the new names released on the NBA draft list.

---Kevin Ware has decomitted from UCF.

---Gary Parrish believes that despite the addition of Colorado and Utah, the Pac 12 will remain the weakest power-six conference.

---John Rothstein provides a list of teams on the rise next season.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

God's Gift plans to announce decision Thursday

---ECC's God's Gift Achiuwa will announce his college choice at 2 p.m. Thursday at the school.

"He's going to announce his decision based on the three schools he visited: St. John's, Cincinnati and Washington," ECC coach Alex Nwora said.

Kentucky also expressed interest in Achiuwa, a 6-foot-8 forward, who visited St. John's last weekend.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

ECC's God's Gift to visit Cincinnati

---ECC's God's Gift Achiuwa, one of the top junior college players in the country, is scheduled to visit Cincinnati this weekend. Achiuwa, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Nigeria, averaged 22.3 points and 11.7 rebounds at ECC this past season.

In two years at ECC, he scored 1,092 points and pulled down 765 rebounds.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Time for March Madness

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---Here's your guide to the NCAA Tournament.

---Sully's Bracketology can be found right her ... actually its only available on newsstands. Believe me, it's worth it.

---God'sgift Achiuwa has some unfinished business.

---The 11-hour bus trip, watching their conference tournament loss to Kent State along the way, turned out to be well worth the trouble for UB.

---A great-read on Gus Johnson.

---Jeff Eisenberg defines the good and the bad of this year's tournament.

---Eamonn Brennan provides his initial analysis of the brackets.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Balanced attack keys Erie CC to regional title

Their assistant coach was already doused in a Gatorade bath. But Erie CC players weren't done yet. As the yellow liquid spread all over the court, another pair of ECC teammates raced over to the Monroe CC bench to steal their Gatorade jug.

And just when they were about to shower their head coach Alex Nwora — and an administrator about to announce awards stopped them.

“No, no, no!” he yelled.

Good call. There’s still work left. But in defeating Monroe Community College, 75-68, Sunday at the Flickinger Center, Nwora and the Kats (26-2) earned a bid to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament.

Monroe CC — much like Niagara County CC one day prior — was a formidable foe. ECC’s sizeable lead was sliced to 66-60 on a Quasim Pugh runner with 3:16 to go. ECC pulled ahead again. Then, with 1:38 left, a tough bucket in traffic cut the Kats’ lead to 70-64. All game, Monroe CC effectively neutralized God’s Gift Achiuwa. The Division I-bound man-child was only 3 of 13 from the field and clearly out of sync on offense.

But through it all, ECC’s supporting cast stepped up. Five-foot-8 (that’s generous) guard Brandon Emmitt single-handedly combated defensive pressure en route to 16 points and zero turnovers. Dequan Jones had 15 points, nine boards and several gut-check free throws down the stretch.

And the Kats as a whole were 22 of 30 from the line — the obvious difference from their lost to this same team just a year ago. Last season, poor free-throw shooting doomed them in a 94-88 season-ending loss to Monroe CC. Lesson learned.

“Last year, we didn’t make free throws against them and it cost us,” said ECC’s Tyshawn Edwards, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds. “We’ve been shooting 80 percent as a team this year and had to zero in today.”

Edwards (Grover Cleveland) has been the robin to Achiuwa’s batman all season. The duo combines to average 43 points per game, and regular Sportscenter-worthy dunks. On this day, though, others needed to step up. Often banished to the corner during offensive possessions — engulfed in a double-team sandwich — Achiuwa was powerless.

To do damage in the national tournament, outside contributions must continue. Edwards, sporting a "716" tattoo on his neck, repeated that the Kats' depth will be crucial.

“Coming into the game, we knew they’d double down on Gift,” said Edwards, who is getting Division I looks from Hofstra, Stony Brook and Niagara amongst others. “We had to step up as a team.”

Next up, nationals. It all begins March 16 in Danville, Ill.

 

---Tyler Dunne

Buffalo State gets historic win

With a 55-50 win over Brockport in the Sports Arena Tuesday night, the Buffalo State women's basketball recorded its 600th program win.

The women's basketball program began in 1965 at Buffalo State and the Bengals (formerly Lady Bengals) have won more than 60 percent of their games.

Barb Kiliszek (Lancaster) led Buffalo State with 14 points, adding six rebounds and four steals as the Bengals improved to 9-6 overall, 4-5 in State University of New York Athletic Conference Play.

In other local college news from Tuesday, Medaille junior Nick Johnson (Canisius) was named the national player of the week by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Johnsonled the Mavericks to a 5-0 start to the season with 89 kills while hitting .394. Medaille is ranked 15th in the nation and hosts Nazareth at 7 on Thursday.

National rankings continue to be the norm for Erie Community College as the Kats' men's basketball team continued to be No. 3 in the NJCAA Division II poll. The Kats improved to 16-1 overall with a 96-58 win over Alfred State Tuesday night. God's GIft Achiuwa, the Region III Athlete of the Week, had 22 points and 11 rebounds.

The ECC men's hockey team is ranked fourth in the latest NJCAA poll andhosts No. 2 Hudson Valley Community College at 3:15, Satuarday, at the Cheektowaga Recreation Center Ice Rink.

-- Amy Moritz

ECC soccer ends playoff run

The Erie Community College men's soccer team saw its season end with a 3-0 loss to Tompkins-Cortland Community College in the NJCAA Region III semfinals Saturday.

The game was played at Herkimer County Community College.

The Kats finished the season at 12-5 -- the second-most wins in a season. ECC also had 12 wins in 1990 and 1976. The program record is 19 set in 1982.

TCCC (15-4-1) took a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute when David Cerasani scored on a rebound. The Panthers added insurance goals in the 68th and 79th minutes.

--- Amy Moritz

Monday college honor roll

Another round of player of the week honors came to Canisius, Niagara and Erie Community College.

To summarize the weekly awards announced on Monday:

Men's Hockey: Niagara freshman goalie Carsen Chubak was the Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week after his collegiate debut in a 2-2 tie with UMass-Lowell on Friday. Chubak made 39 saves, including 20 saves while the Purple Eagles were outshot, 21-7, in the third period and overtime.

Women's Soccer: Canisius freshman Brianna Smith earned Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week honors while Niagara's Ashleigh Bowers was the conference's Defensive Player of the Week.

Smith had a goal on Friday when the Golden Griffins defeated nationally-ranked Siena. She is tied for the team-lead in goals (8) and ranks second in points (20). This is her second rookie of the week honor.

Bowers recorded two shutouts in wins over Marist and Siena. She has six shutouts on the season and a 0.67 goals against average while her 0.88 save percentage ranks 11th nationally.

D'Youville sophomore Danielle Braun (Iroquois) was named the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Player of the Week after scoring five goals with two assists in three wins. Braun holds the school record for single-season points (34) and single-season game-winning goals (3).

Men's soccer: After scoring his second career hat-trick in a win over Manhattan, Niagara's Carl Haworth was named the MAAC Offensive Player of the Week. Haworth leads the Purple Eagles and ranks second in the conference in goals (9) while his 22 points leads the MAAC and ranks sixth nationally.

Hilbert junior Ed Heffron (O'Hara) was the AMCC Defensive Player of the Week, as he picked up an asisst and helped hold opponents to one goal in a pair of conference wins.

Cross country: After a third-place finish at the 5K UAlbany Invitational, Canisius senior Maura Frauenhofer earned her third MAAC runner of the week honor. Frauenhofer ran a 17:41 on Friday to earn her third top-10 overall finish this year.

For the fourth time this season, D'Youville senior Anya Bogdanets (Kenmore West) earned Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference runner of the week honors. Bogdanets placed first out of 103 runners at the CCOC Championships, setting a Seneca Lake State Park 5K course record in 19:08.85. It was her third win of the season.

Football: A career-high 168 yards and one touchdown earned Erie Community College running back Zedric Joseph the Northeast Football Conference co-offensive player of the week award. Joseph had a 26-yard TD run for the Kats, who lost, 17-14, to Dean on Saturday. Over the last two games, he has gained 293 yards on the ground.

--- Amy Moritz

ECC vs. Dean football live blog

Kickoff is moments away at Jim Ball Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. as Erie Community College hosts Dean in a Northeast Football Conference matchup.

ECC is 2-4 overall, 2-2 in the NEC and coming off a a 39-32 home win against Lackawanna last week.

Dean is 4-2 overall, 1-1 in the conference and holds a 5-4 edge in the series between the two teams. Dean has won the last three meetings.

Check back for updates throughout the game.

First quarter

12:33 An interception by Larry Whitner put ECC on Dean's 26-yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, Zedric Jospeh stayed on his feet through the line and scrambled 26 yards for a touchdown. Kats lead, 7-0.

57 seconds: Dean took advantage of an interception and a 4th-and-13 conversion to get on the board before the end of the quarter on an 8-yard run by Rico Brazil, but a missed PAT keeps the Kats in the lead, 7-6.

Second quarter

11:01 Two big third-down conversions helped ECC sustain a drive, capped by a 1-yard run by QB Tyheen Taylor. Taylor hit Gavin Gaiser for a 26-yard pick up on a 3rd-and-6 while Joseph had a 14-yard run on a 3rd-and-7. The 11-play, 70-yard drive took 4:50 and the PAT puts the Kats up, 14-6.

7:39 Big defensive stop for ECC. After the Kats gave up a big pass play made more significant with a late hit call added to the end of it, Dean was marching down the field. ECC buckled down just outside the red zone and Dean was going to attempt a 40-yard field goal on 4th-and-10 but an illegal substitution call on ECC made it 4th-and-5 and Dean went for the first down. ECC stopped the run short, kept points off the board, and took over on downs at its own 17 yard line.

5:49 Short-lived momentum. Kats QB Taylor fumbles and Dean takes over on the ECC 32-yard line.

3:51 Dean turns the fumble into points as Blaine Moriarty hits a 32-yard field goal. The ECC lead is now 14-9.

2.5 seconds: Dean intercepts ECC on the 11-yard line. ECC had three shots at the end zone from the 11, but two ruled incomplete passes to the sideline and the interception end the opportunity.

Halftime: ECC leads, 14-9

Joseph has 115 yards on 18 carries in the first half as ECC holds a a slight edge in total offense -- 189 yards to 122. Malcolm RIcks is leading the Kats' defense with eight tackles, including two for loss, and one sack. 

Third quarter

4:27 More punts in this quarter than in the entire first half. Mike Lawandus missed a 45-yard field goal for the Kats. Dean takes over on downs at its own 27-yard-line. ECC still leads, 14-9.

1:58 Another missed field goal for Lewandus, this time 41-yards. Dean takes over at its own 24 yard line. Dangerous time for ECC as Dean keeps hanging around.

End of the quarter and Dean is driving. The Kats defense is playing well, but the offense needs to give them a bit more cushion.

Fourth quarter

10:53 ECC is driving and Joseph is leading the charge. He has 158 yards on 27 carries.

5:29 Dean takes the lead, 17-14. A 37-yard pass play from Jawad Yatim to RIco Brazil erased a 3rd-and-9 and put Dean in the red zone. Three players later Brazil had a 6-yard TD run. The two-point conversion was good.

3:37 Time is running out on the Kats. The went four-and-out, suffering a sack on 4th-and-3. Dean takes over on downs at the ECC 27 yard line and the Kats have no timeouts left.

1:33 ECC takes over on downs at its own 15. The Kats need some magic to pull this one out.

Final: Dean 17, ECC 14 

The Kats drove down to the Dean 30 yard, attempted to try a 47-yard field goal with seven seconds left, but were flagged for an illegal substitution. A completed pass got the Kats to the 2-yard line but time expired before another play could run.

Joseph finished with 31 carries for 168 yards.

See more details in Sunday's edition of The Buffalo News.

--- Amy Moritz

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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 | [email protected]


Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic

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.

@RodneyMcKissic | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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