While the Niagara men came up just short in a comeback bid at Quinnipiac, falling 85-81, in Hamden, Conn., the University at Buffalo and St. Bonaventure women's teams both had reasons to feel jolly after their basketball games on Thursday.
That was especially true for senior guard Brittany Hedderson, who set a UB record for points in a game with 39 to lead the Bulls to a 69-65 overtime triumph over Oakland (Mich.) in Alumni Arena.
Bona's defense proved to be too much for Colgate as it left Central New York with a 68-49 win.
Niagara trailed by as many as 13 points (22-9) just 6:29 into the game, but as the Purple Eagles have done multiple times this season they turned a potential blowout into a nail-biter. Antoine Mason had 12 of his 14 first-half points in the final 13:11 -- igniting a run with a three-pointer that pulled Niagara within 46-37 at halftime. Mason led the Purple Eagles (4-8) with 22 points.
Ike Azotam had 19 of his 32 points in the first half for Quinnipiac (6-5) as he finished 13 for 18 from the floor and grabbed nine rebounds.
Niagara pulled within two twice in the second half, the final time (80-78) with 36 seconds left after a Marvin Jordan free throw, but never tied it. NU's leading scorer, Juan'ya Green, misfired on a three-pointer that could've knotted things with 26 seconds left. The Bobcats then survived a turnover and a three-point play with six seconds left by Malcolm Lemmons (13 points) by making two free throws for the final margin. Green finished with 10 points, nearly 10 below the freshman's season average.
Hedderson, whose outburst is more than double her season scoring average of 17.4, scored 19 of her points during a first half in which UB carried a 28-26 lead into the intermission. Hedderson's jumper seven seconds into overtime broke a 58-58 tie and gave the Bulls (4-8) the lead for good. She shot 16 for 29 overall in breaking the mark of 38 previously held by Regina Frazier (1977-78).
"I don't know if I've ever seen a performance like the one Brittany had today and the rest of the team did a great job complementing her game out there on the floor," UB coach Linda Hill-MacDonald said.
In Hamilton, St. Bonaventure (11-1) posted its seventh straight victory by holding the Raiders (2-11) to just 10 points over the final 13 minutes while having five of its players each score in double figures.
Armelia Horton and Chelsea Bowker each finished with 15 points for Bona, with Horton canning 6 of 7 shots from the floor and 3 of 4 at the line.
The St. Bonaventure men look to bounce back from Tuesday's heartbreaking two-point loss to N.C. State in Rochester with a home game against St. Francis (Pa.) tonight at 7.