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Big 4 Extra Points: UB's Perkins, Bona's Gregg assert themselves

Extra points from Saturday night’s 90-84 victory by St. Bonaventure over the University at Buffalo:

BIG PERK: UB fans can’t help but be excited by 6-8 sophomore Nick Perkins. He made a couple plays in the second half that made your eyes bulge. Perkins made a power pivot move on the low blocks and hit a 5-foot bank shot early in the second half. Big-time move. With 3:22 left, he thundered along the base line to catch a sweet lay-off from Davonta Jordan and convert a ferocious dunk that made even the Bona students hush for a moment. That play started UB’s final push that got them within two. Perkins scored 18 points and hit 4 of 8 three-pointers.

UB coach Nate Oats is demanding of his young forward because he knows how good he can become.

Said Oats: “The problem is he’s 0 for 0 at the free-throw line again. We keep talking to him. He’s got to get to the free-throw line. He’s got to get more interior touches, be a little more aggressive going to the rim get some offensive rebounds. He’s not averaging many free-throw attempts for a guy who’s 6-8, 260. I don’t care if he shoots threes. I know he can shoot threes. I’ll keep letting him shoot them, even if he has an off night.”

Said Perkins: “I thought it was a great experience for the team. A high-style environment. We had some young guys show what they could do. I thought Davonta made some good plays late in the game with some passes.”

DENZEL DAZZLES: Speaking of explosive players, Bona forward Denzel Gregg outdid Perkins in the dunk department with two alley-oop slams off Jay Adams passes. There were some times last year when Gregg receded into the background, understandably deferring to the Big Three. He’s more consistently assertive so far this season.

Gregg had 14 points, five boards and three blocks. We could have sworn he had more than three blocks. Did the statistician miss a few?

“Three’s quite a lot too so no complaining,” Gregg said.

Gregg made a key block on Jordan when the UB point guard made a pretty drive to the basket with 7 minutes left. He rejected 6-8 David Kadiri near the rim with 3 minutes to go. He rejected Blake Hamilton with 40 seconds to go.

NO CHINO: A lot was made, justifiably so, of the fact UB was missing scoring guard C.J. Massinburg. UB also was without freshman wing Quate McKinzie, who would have helped against the long Bonnies. Bona got outrebounded, 39-37.

But Bona was without 6-11 transfer Chino Obokoh. He hasn’t shown much on the offensive end, but he still figures to be an important contributor as a rim protector and rebounder against the A-10s tougher inside teams. Obokoh is out with what’s believed to be a minor knee injury.

BONA OVERVIEW: From coach Mark Schmidt: “When you don’t’ play your best and you still win that’s a great sign. We needed everybody. We took care of the ball. . . . It was going back and forth and not much defense was being played. . . . We’ve got to play better and we will. As I’ve said over and over we’re still a work in progress.”

BIG FROSH: Josh Ayeni, the 6-8 Bona freshman, continues to impress. He was 4 of 11 from the field and hit mid-range jumpers.

Said Schmidt: “They were downing screens, meaning they were forcing the ball down to the baseline and that’s the shot that’s open, those seam passes to the elbow. If you don’t hit those, they’re going to stay down in those screens. It forced them to do other things. Josh, Dave, Denzel can shoot those elbow jump shots.”

LITTLE FROSH: Even though Davonta Jordan, the high-quality UB recruit from Florida, made five turnovers, we like what we see from him. He was impressive taking the ball to the rim. Give him another month to get a little more confidence, and he could be finishing even harder and more effectively.

RAHEEM: Senior center Raheem Johnson gave UB 12 points on 6 of 6 shooting and six rebounds in 20 minutes. Johnson, who sat out last year with a foot injury, clearly is better than he was two years ago. Getting 20 good minutes from his is going to be key against the quality big men in the MAC.

Said Oats: “Raheem’s starting to figure it out a little bit. He’s got to learn the plays a little better. That’s his big issue right now. He gives us great energy. He plays hard. He just frustrates with some of the mental errors in the game, otherwise he’d probably be getting a few more minutes.”

STATS: Bona won the points off turnovers, 23-11. UB won second-chance points (17-8) and points in the paint (36-30).

NO. 53, MR. G: Bona did a nice job with its halftime ceremony for all-time scorer Greg Sanders and the 1977 NIT championship team. Sanders looked and sounded good in brief, gracious comments, considering he's recovered from a debilitating stroke a dozen years ago. Bona Hall-of-Famer Jim Baron, co-captain of the ’77 team, spoke first to the crowd, and they could feel his genuine love for the school.

“This is one of the greatest moments of all of our lives,” Baron said. “Being here at Bonaventure, it feels really, really, really great.”

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