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Niagara-Iona Game Wrap (MAAC semis)

MAAC Semifinals
Iona 79, Niagara 72

How Iona Won: The Gaels dominated the inside, making it imperative for Niagara to shoot it well from the outside. That didn't happen. The Purple Eagles launched 33 shots from behind the arc and made just seven. They were 21 of 36 on two-pointers. What's more, Niagara scored just 12 points off 14 Iona turnovers.

Player of the Game: David Laury, Iona's 6-8 sophomore forward, was sensational. He had 20 points and 17 rebounds, giving him 44 points and 33 rebounds in two games against the Purple Eagles.

Best Supporting Role: Taaj Ridley, Laury's front-court mate, is benefiting from the room that opens because of Laury's presence. His 16 points were two off his season high.

Best Player (Losing Effort): With Tahjere McCall out injured, Marvin Jordan played all but a few seconds, scored 11 points and handed out six assists. And no turnovers.

Ellis Island: The Gaels don't develop freshman. They scour the country for players looking to transfer. Momo Jones came from Arizona. Tavon Sledge from Iowa State. Ridley, Laury and Tre Bowman were juco players. The only Gaels who came straight from high school: freshman A.J. English and junior Sean Armand.

Stat Check: Iona shot just five second-half threes to Niagara's 15. They both made two.

What It Means: Iona, an NCAA at-large team last year, looks to secure a second straight trip to The Dance with a win in Monday night's MAAC title game against Manhattan. The Jaspers are only the second No. 6 seed to tourney history to make the final. Niagara will play in the NIT, its prize for winning the conference regular-season crown.

They Said It

Niagara's Antoine Mason picked up his third foul when Momo Jones drew a charge with 6:17 remaining. Here's Jones:

"I've known him since I was a young kid. He's a power player. I knew he wanted to go right and I kept telling coach, 'Coach, all he wants to do is go right. All he wants to do is go right.' That was just the mindset. Make him go right. Take a charge. I think he had maybe two or three at that time and I knew if I could get that charge he would slow down and not be as aggressive as he was. I think that charge really set him back and he wasn't as aggressive as he was early on."

Iona coach Tim Cluess: "When we have four of five guys giving us good contributions and other guys coming off our bench and helping us in different roles then we're a pretty good basketball team. And right now we're a pretty good team."

Niagara coach Joe Mihalich: "Our hearts our broken. At the same time, as I said to the guys, at the same time there's a lot of guys whose hearts are broken and they've turned their uniforms in. We're not doing that."

Mason on Niagara's second-half shooting woes: "We just didn't hit them in the second half. The first half everything was going in. We got to make sure if it's not going in we got to mix it up."

-- Bob DiCesare

Live blog: Niagara vs. Siena men's hoops at 2:30 p.m.

Live blog: Canisius vs. Iona men's hoops at 4:30 p.m.

Niagara-Rider Women's Game Wrap

MAAC Quarterfinals
Niagara 59, Rider 54

How Niagara Won: The Purple Eagles led by 17 early in the second half then held on for dear life down the stretch as Rider's press did its job. Free throw shooting was huge. Niagara went 17 of 19 for the game and 15 of 16 in the second half.

Player of the Game: Sophomore Meghan McGuinness scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds (both team highs) and went 6 of 6 from the line over the final 2:10.

Best Supporting Role: All-conference selection Lauren Gatto was limited to just 24 minutes because of fouls but scored 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

Best Performance (Losing Effort): Rider's MyNeshia McKenzie is relentless. She scored 22 points and brought down 13 rebounds.

Stat Check: Niagara got just eight points from its bench but it made a difference. Rider managed a scant two.

Stat Check II: Only once in the last 10 games has Niagara's second-half free throw percentage dipped below 75.

In the House: Attendance for the session totaled 1,855.

Next Up: A semifinal meeting with Marist, which hasn't lost a MAAC tournament game since 2005.

They Said It

Niagara assistant coach Corinne Jones on leading at the half with Gatto playing just 7 minutes: "I think that's a tribute to our team. Players step up. They did their job. They were ready to go. We had some bench players, Jessica Flamm and San Lapszynski, who just did what they were supposed to do. They were solid."

-- Bob DiCesare

Canisius-Iona Women's Game Wrap

Iona 76, Canisius 58

How Iona Won: When the conference Player of the Year goes off for a career-high 36 . . .

Damika Martinez, just a sophomore, made 14 of 23 shots from the field, including 6 of 9 from three-point land, in dismantling an injury-depleted Canisius defense. Toss in 15 points and a game-high (by 11) 18 rebounds from Rookie of the Year Joy Adams and the rout is on.

It Was Over When . . . : Martinez went wild early in the second half, scoring eight of Iona's first 10 points.

Player of the Game: Did we mention Martinez also had seven rebounds, a block and a steal?

Best Supporting Role: Adams was Sherwin-Williams, Behr and Benjamin Moore rolled into one She owned the paint.

Best Player (Losing Effort): Junior forward Jamie Ruttle got off to a hot start and finished with 13 points and five rebounds.

Stat Check: Canisius managed just 13 points off 18 Iona turnovers.

Hurting: Canisius had its upset bid undermined by ankle injuries to Kayla Hoohuli and Tiahana Mills. They played a combined 15 minutes.

In the House: There might have been a couple hundred on hand for a 9:30 start on a snowy New England morning.

They Said It

Griffs coach Terry Zeh on the ankle sprain suffered by Kayla Hoohuli: "She said to me, 'I can go straight and forward, I can't go sideways, which is a problem defensively."

Zeh on trying to defend Martinez with Hoohuli: "She had it going and we didn't have any answers to try and stop her."

-- Bob DiCesare

MAAC Matchups Set

Here's how the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament shapes up this week in Springfield, Mass.:

On the women's side, No. 7 Canisius plays No. 10 Saint Peter's at noon on Thursday. If the Griffs win they'll face No. 2 Iona in the quarters at 9:30 Friday morning. No. 5 Niagara faces No. 4 Rider in the quarters at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

On the men's side, No. 1 Niagara plays the winner of Friday's 8-9 game between Marist and Siena at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. No. 5 Canisius meet No. 4 Iona at 4:30 Saturday. If the Griffs and Purple Eagles both will they'll meet in Sunday 2 p.m. semifinal.

-- Bob DiCesare



Chat replay: Niagara beats Saint Peter's for MAAC title

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

Another Kemp With WNY Ties

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:


Hi, I saw the update today on Niagara's upcoming game at Marist this weekend..and thought I'd share abit of trivia...Adam Kemp, Center for Marist men's basketball, and my son although from Sherrill (NY) has Buffalo roots!

I'm his mom and from Alden NY, and his dad, David is from Tonawanda.  He has one living Grandmother - in Tonawanda, and various aunts/uncles/cousins all around the WNY area..

My dad, Adam's grandfather (Robert Monroe), played basketball at Kenmore HS back in the 30s, also played during WWII for the 31st Dixie Division and also played "semi-pro" basketball in Buffalo, so I was told.  Never was able to really confirm that semi-pro legend as my dad didn't like to share much..anyways, Kemp is a good WNY name, right? :-)

Go Red Foxes!!

-- Bob DiCesare

Canisius-Niagara game analysis

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.

---Rodney McKissic

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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 |