The Niagara and St. Bonaventure women’s basketball teams begin their 2017-18 campaigns Friday at the Bonnies’ Reilly Center at 5:30 p.m. as part of a doubleheader with the men’s teams, which play afterwards at 8 p.m.
It’s the second straight year the two teams open up against one another. The Purple Eagles dominated the visiting Bonnies last season, 65-43, for their first win over the Big 4 rival in a decade.
It was one of eight victories for Niagara, which went 8-22 overall and 5-15 in the MAAC. It returns the conference’s leading scorer in redshirt-senior forward Victoria Rampado (16.8 points per game).
After an NCAA Tournament appearance two years ago, St. Bonaventure dropped to 9-20 last season and 4-12 in the Atlantic-10. Senior Mariah Ruff was named to the A-10 second team this preseason after averaging 13.9 points as a junior.
Elsewhere, the University at Buffalo begins its title chase Friday afternoon when Delaware visits Alumni Arena for a 1 p.m. tip.
The Bulls were tabbed by conference coaches to win the MAC East regular season title for just the second time in program history. They’ve won at least 17 games each of the past four seasons and have notched back-to-back 20-plus win seasons for the first time since joining the MAC.
Senior point guard Stephanie Reid is the top returning scorer on the team and was named All-MAC East for the second straight preseason. Local products Cassie Oursler (Grand Island) and Summer Hemphill (Cardinal O’Hara) were also big contributors a year ago.
Canisius hosts Colgate at 7 p.m. Friday at the Koessler Center in their first game of the season.
The Golden Griffins are coming off a 10-21 season, 8-12 in the MAAC, but do return a pair of scorers who are on pace for 1,000 career points in juniors Sara Hinriksdottir and Maria Welch.
MEN’S HOCKEY: The two teams sitting atop the Atlantic Hockey standings clash at Dwyer Arena this weekend, as Niagara (5-2-1, 4-0-1) hosts Army West Point (5-3, 5-3). Opening faceoffs are set for 7:05 p.m. tonight and Saturday.
The Purple Eagles are the only team without a loss in conference play. They went 1-0-1 against Bentley last weekend and received votes in the USCHO.com poll for the first time since October 2014. The Black Knights are coming off a sweep of rival Air Force.
Canisius (3-3-1, 3-3) will visit Mercyhurst (3-3-2, 1-1-2) this weekend for 7:05 p.m. games tonight and Saturday.
The Golden Griffins split a road series at Sacred Heart last weekend, while Mercyhurst split a non-conference series at No. 17 Penn State.
MEN’S SOCCER: No. 3 Canisius scored 7:29 into the game, but No. 2 Rider responded with three goals in an eight-minute span to come away with a 3-1 win in the MAAC semifinals.
WOMEN’S SOCCER: Third-seeded Erie Community College lost, 2-0, to No. 6 Rowan College at Gloucester County (N.J.) in the first round of the NJCAA Division III Championship held at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
The Kats play Friday against No. 7 Montgomery (Md.) at 12:30 p.m.