UB, Canisius each tied for conference lead

Huge games this weekend for Big-Four basketball teams

Ryan Gates
February 13, 2018 - 4:42 pm

Photo: UBBulls.com

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About to hit the halfway point of February and Big-Four basketball teams continue to have success on the floor. U.B. and Canisius are each tied for the lead in their conferences while Niagara and St. Bonaventure are poised to earn a bye in their post-season tournament as Championship Week approaches.
 

University at Buffalo Bulls (18-7, 10-2, RPI: 33):

The Bulls were the only Big-Four team to drop a game last week when they lost in overtime to Northern Illinois on Saturday.

Earlier in the week the team took down the Central Michigan Chippewas 88-82. It was the 18th win on the season for the Bulls which surpasses their total from last year. UB led the entire game with Jeremy Harris (22), CJ Massinburg (18), Wes Clark (16), and Nick Perkins (13) all reaching double digits.

Free-throw shooting let the Bulls down on Saturday in their 90-88 overtime loss to the Huskies. The team shot an abysmal 11-of-26 from the charity stripe for a 42.3 free-throw percentage. In comparison, Northern Illinois made 24 of their 29 attempts. With 8:19 remaining in regulation, U.B. led by 13, but the Huskies would surge with an 18-1 run. Wes Clark had an opportunity to give the Bulls the lead with 12-seconds left with a pair of free-throws trailing 82-81. He would miss his first, but drain the second to tie the game. The Bulls would get a stop on defense to send the game to overtime. In the extra frame, U.B. led 88-86 after a three-pointer from Clark with 1:54 remaining, but that would be the last bucket for the Bulls as Eugene German scored the final four points in his 28 point effort for Northern Illinois.

At 10-2 in the Mid-American Conference, the Bulls are now tied for first with the Toledo Rockets. The regular season champion will receive an automatic bid to the NIT. U.B. holds the tiebreaker thanks to their 104-94 win over Toledo on January 2nd.

Four of the Bulls final six games will be at Alumni Arena starting with a pair this week. On Tuesday, the Bulls will look to avenge their only other conference loss this season against Kent State at 7 p.m. The Golden Flashes (12-13, 6-6) topped UB 82-79 two weeks prior. Friday night at 7 p.m. the Bulls will be featured on ESPNU as they host Bowling Green (15-10, 6-6) for the first time this season.

Tickets for both games are available, or if you can’t make it they will be broadcast on ESPN 1520.


Niagara Purple Eagles (17-10, 10-4, RPI: 162):

Winners of 10 of their last 12 games, the Purple Eagles hosted a pair of wins at the Gallagher Center last week.

The team has typically leaned on the trio of Kahlil Dukes, Matt Scott, and Marvin Prochet to do the majority of its damage, but it was different for Niagara in their 95-76 win over Quinnipiac. James Towns came off the bench to score a game-high 26 points. He had an efficient night missing only four shots from the field, and hitting all three of his attempts from beyond the arc. Khaleaf Tate was also perfect from three point range, as he hit all five of his attempts scoring a career-high 15 points. All of Tate’s points came in the first half.

Niagara returned to their typical game script on Saturday afternoon as Dukes, Scott, and Prochet led the way in a 95-83 victory against Fairfield. Dukes had a game-high 22 points, while Scott and Prochet posted similar stat lines. Each had a double-double with 19 points and eleven boards. Dukes also set the school record for consecutive free-throws made. He now has hit 37 in a row from the line.

Only four games remain in the regular season for the Purple Eagles as they make their final road trip downstate for a pair of games against Iona (16-11, 10-5) and Manhattan. They are solely in third place, but can lose ground in the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference on Friday night in their game against the Gaels at 7 p.m. Iona won the first matchup of the season 98-93, and would have the tiebreaker on Niagara. On Sunday afternoon, the Jaspers (12-14, 7-7) will host the Purple Eagles at 2 p.m. With a win in either game the team can clinch a bye in the MAAC tournament.

You’ll be able to listen to both games on WGR.
 

Canisius Golden Griffins (18-9, 12-2, RPI: 120):

It was a busy week for Canisius with three games at the Koessler Athletic Center in five days.

Thursday was the beginning of the home stand for the Griffs, and it started strong with their largest win of the season, 89-65 over Siena. Four players scored in double-digits for the team with Jermaine Crumpton leading the way with a game-high 24 points. Jonathan Sanks continued his emergence off the bench netting an efficient 14 points.

Canisius had their Sports Hall of Fame Day on Saturday afternoon and treated their alumni to a 71-64 victory against Qunnipiac. Crumpton became the eighth highest scorer in program history as he scored 14 points, passing Hank Nowak. Isaiah Reese had his second double-double of season with 13 points, and 10 boards. He also added seven assists.

The team finished their home stand on Monday posting their fifth straight win beating up on Fairfield 81-63. Crumpton again led the Griffs with 21 points and 10 rebounds. It is the 23rd straight game in which he has scored at least 10 points. Malik Johnson also had a double-double for the Griffs netting 15 points, and grabbing a career-high 10 boards.

With their win on Monday night, Canisius is now tied with Rider (19-7, 12-2) for first place in the MAAC with a 12-2 conference record. As it stands now Canisius holds the tiebreaker thanks to their 77-76 win earlier in the season, but will face the Broncs as part of their road trip to New Jersey this weekend. First, the Griffs with take on Monmouth (8-17, 4-9) Friday night at 7 p.m. Then, Rider hosts the team for a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.


St. Bonaventure Bonnies (18-6, 8-4, RPI: 44):

Remember when Jaylen Adams hit a game-winning bucket with five seconds left to score 40 against Duquesne? Well he had a solid encore to that performance last week on his way to being named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week for the fourth time this season.

Adams played a role in 74 percent of the Bonnies points in their 79-56 win over Saint Louis at the Reilly Center. He backed up his 40 point performance by topping that with 44 on Wednesday night missing only four shots, and shooting 10-of-13 from beyond the arc. That’s a program record in made three-pointers in one game for Adams, breaking the mark set by teammate Matt Mobley last season. Adams currently ranks third in the nation in three-point shooting percentage making 50 percent of his shots. In the two games against Duquesne and Saint Louis, Adams made 18 of his 26 three-point shots. Matt Mobley hit a milestone in his Saint Bonaventure career scoring his 1000th point in the win.

It was Homecoming and Alumni Weekend in Olean as the Bonnies hosted Richmond on Saturday. Adams didn’t put up another 40 points, but did take over the game in the second half to lead the Bonnies to a 97-88 win. With 13:17 left in regulation, the Spiders held a 61-59 lead over the Bonnies after a three-point play from Grant Golden. Jaylen Adams would score the next 10 points in the game giving Bonas an eight point lead. Richmond wouldn’t get within six points for the remainder of the contest. Each Adams, and Mobley put up 24 points, while the entire starting lineup posted at least eleven points for the Bonnies.

After struggling in the early part of their conference schedule, the team now has won six straight in the Atlantic 10, which is their longest win streak in the conference since the 1982-83 season. Bonaventure is now tied for second with Davidson in the conference at 8-4 and earned three votes in the latest AP Poll. A huge game looms for the Bonnies on Friday night at the Reilly Center, but first they go to Philadelphia to take on La Salle (10-15, 4-8) Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Rhode Island, the 16th ranked team in the nation, travels to Olean Friday night for an Atlantic 10 showcase game on ESPN2. If the Bonnies keep their win streak going into Friday night, a win against the Rams could be a huge boost to their resume going into March.

 

Big-Four basketball has been having a great season and could see two or more teams dancing their way into the NCAA Tournament. There’s still more work to be done for U.B., Niagara, Canisius, and St. Bonaventure, but they have put themselves in a position to play meaningful basketball in early March.

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