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UB, Canisius fall short

There’s no such thing as an easy game in Athens, Ohio, for the University at Buffalo no matter what the records might suggest beforehand.

The Bulls on Saturday afternoon went up against an Ohio team struggling under first-year coach Saul Phillips but saw a late lead dissolve in a 63-61 defeat that dropped UB into fourth place in the six-team Mid-American Conference East.

In a night game in Lawrenceville, N.J., Canisius ran up against a conference rival that plays defense as least as well as itself. Rider held an opponent to 55 points or less for the sixth time in the last 11 games, topping the Griffs, 59-46, in a battle for third place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

In Athens, Ohio’s Maurice Daly Ndour, a 6-foot-9 senior, dunked for the winning points just before the buzzer. Ohio inbounded from under its own basket with 2.9 seconds left and threw a long pass that found Ndour at the top of the key. He shook defender Justin Moss with a shimmy, wheeled toward the hoop and threw down a two-handed jam with six-tenths of a second on the clock. Ndour finished with 31 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

UB’s Jarryn Skeete had hit a three to tie the game at 61 with 38 seconds remaining.

UB, which held a 56-52 lead at the final media timeout, fell to 12-6 overall and 3-3 in the conference. Ohio improved to 7-10 and 2-4 in winning back-to-back games for the first time under Phillips, the former head coach at North Dakota State. The Bobcats own the all-time series, 29-9, and have won eight of the last nine against the Bulls.

Moss and Xavier Ford each had 11 points for UB, which shot 4 of 22 from behind the arc.

Canisius will get another shot at Rider Feb. 13 in the KAC with hopes the home rims prove more friendly. The Griffs managed just 16 first-half points and shot 29.5 percent for the game as their three-game winning streak ended. Rider has won nine of its last 11 and owns victories over conference co-leaders Iona and Monmouth.

Zach Lewis led Canisius with 14 points and shot 5 of 10 from the floor but didn’t receive much help. The rest of the Griffs were a combined 8 of 34. Canisius also committed 19 turnovers.

Rider put four players in double figures, led by center Matt Lopez with 12.

In women’s action, UB overcame a humbling first-half shooting performance and the continued absence of preseason all-MAC guard Mackenzie Loesing to defeat visiting Northern Illinois, 47-43, while St. Bonaventure was dealt a 66-48 defeat by Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia.

Kristen Sharkey led the way for the Bulls (10-8, 3-4) with 18 points but the offense struggled without Loesing, who missed her second straight game because of a concussion. UB shot just 4 of 26 (15.4 percent) in the first half and trailed, 20-11, at the break but rebounded with an 11-of-23 performance in the second half. NIU was held to 29 percent shooting in the second half.

Outscored from the field, the Bulls countered by going 13 of 20 from the foul line while the Huskies (6-10, 2-4) were just 3 of 9.

In Philly, Saint Joseph’s went on a 29-7 burst over 12 minutes spanning both halves and coasted to its second Atlantic 10 win in six starts. The Bonnies (11-9, 1-6) got 15 points and nine rebounds from Katie Healy.

Sunday’s games

The St. Bonaventure and Niagara men are on the road and the Canisius women are home.

The Bonnies look to extend their winning streak to four games as they take on a Rhode Island team that’s been on a roll of its own. Both teams carry 4-2 conference records into the Atlantic 10 game; Bona is 11-6 overall, Rhode Island 12-5.

Bona is lead by guard Marcus Posley at 18.5 points per game while center Youssou Ndoye averages 12.2 points and 11 rebounds. Rhode Island’s top gun is sophomore guard E.C. Matthews, who averages 17 points. The Rams, coached by Danny Hurley, brother of UB coach Bobby Hurley, scored an 87-78 victory when the teams met in Olean last season. It’s a 2 p.m. start.

Meanwhile, Niagara and Iona meet up at 4:30 p.m. in Madison Square Garden, a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game preceded by Duke-St. John’s. Niagara (3-15, 2-7) has lost seven straight but took the Gaels (14-6, 7-2) to the wire before succumbing, 80-79, in the Taps Gallagher Center on Jan. 16.

Iona guard Alex English had 28 points in that game and hit two decisive free throws in the final seconds. Center David Laury added 25 points and 16 rebounds for Iona while Ramone Snowden netted 21 for Niagara, including two threes that gave Niagara temporary leads inside the final minute.

At the Koessler Center, the Canisius women look to avenge the 85-75 loss to Iona on Jan. 4. The Griffs are 7-11 overall and 5-4 within the MAAC. Iona (10-8, 7-2 MAAC) has won six of its last seven, with the lone loss coming in overtime.