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Big 4 Roundup: UB downs Rockets; closes in on top spot

Never allowing Toledo to take the lead, the University at Buffalo men’s basketball team held off the Rockets for a 73-68 victory Saturday night in Savage Hall in Toledo, Ohio.

By winning, the Bulls (12-9, 5-3 MAC) moved within one game of the leaders in the Mid-American Conference East. Kent State and Akron are each 6-2 in conference play.

UB’s biggest lead was 12 points, but the Rockets (12-9, 3-5 MAC) stayed within hailing distance most of the way. Toledo closed to within two, 65-63, on a pair of free throws by center Nathan Boothe with 1:36 left.

Blake Hamilton scored with a layup for UB with 1:06 left to make 67-63, and two free throws each by the Bulls’ CJ Massinburg and Lamonte Bearden pushed the margin to eight points (71-63). Hamilton closed it out with two foul shots with two seconds left.

Hamilton led UB with 17 points. Bearden had 16 while Massinburg contributed 13 and Rodell Wigginton 10, both coming off the bench.

Boothe, who was averaging 19.6 points per game, was kept in check. He was one of three Toledo players with 15 points. Jonathan Williams and freshman guard Jaelan Sanford were the others.

UB made 9 of 24 from three-point range and Toledo was 6-25. Overall, the Bulls made 25 of 60 (41.7 percent) to 24 of 60 (40 percent) by the Rockets.

Niagara’s men’s team (6-17, 4-8) couldn’t hold off Quinnipiac after building an early lead and lost to the Bobcats, 82-68, at TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn.

The Purple Eagles had their largest lead, nine points (22-13), with 9:27 to go in the first half, but Quinnipiac dominated the rest of the period to take a 38-30 lead. The Bobcats closed the half with a 12-0 run.

Despite Matt Scott, who scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, Niagara never could regain the lead. Scott made a pair of free throws at the end of a 10-0 Niagara run to narrow the deficit to four points (56-52) with 8:58 left, but the Bobcats gradually widened their advantage after that.

Matt Prochet had 13 points and Emile Blackman 11 for Niagara. Giovanni McLean and Daniel Harris led Quinnipiac with 19 and 18 points respectively.

Joanna Smith of the University at Buffalo scored a career-best 31 points and had 14 rebounds, but the Bulls lost to Northern Illinois, 76-74, on a shot at the buzzer in an afternoon game in DeKalb, Ill. It was the fifth straight loss in Mid-American Conference play for UB (10-9, 2-6 MAC).

Sophomore Stephanie Reid made two free throws with 3.9 seconds left to give the Bulls a 74-73 lead, but after a time out, Cassidy Glenn of the Huskies drilled a three-pointer to win it.

Smith scored 18 of UB’s 22 points in the third quarter as the lead built to 64-52. However, the Bulls were outscored in the final quarter, 24-10.

“We need to continue to get better and learn to change with how the game is being played and we didn’t know how to adjust today,” UB coach Felisha Legette-Jack said.

The Niagara women (6-15, 4-8 MAAC) scored the game’s first basket then trailed the rest of the way in a 73-52 loss to Iona (13-9, 9-2 MAAC) on Saturday afternoon at the Gallagher Center. It was the Purple Eagles’ fourth straight loss. Five of the visiting Gaels scored 10 more points, led by Marina Lizarazu’s 15. Joy Adams had 14 and 13 rebounds.

Kaylee Stroemple led Niagara with 15 points. Sam Lapszynski had 10 rebounds.

Iona’s largest lead was 24 points with 7:36 to go.

Sunday’s games

The single-admission Sunday doubleheader, once a major league baseball staple, is rare these days. However, followers of St. Bonaventure basketball will be treated to a true doubleheader Sunday afternoon when the Bonnies women’s and men’s teams host teams from Richmond in Atlantic 10 Conference games.

The Bona women (18-3, 7-1 A-10) get things started against the Spiders (9-11, 205 A-10) at 12:30 p.m.

The Bonnies are tied with Saint Louis (7-1) for second place in the A-10 behind George Washington (8-0). Duquesne (6-1) is next. Saint Louis will play at George Washington Sunday afternoon while Duquesne visits VCU (4-4).

St. Bonaventure is shooting 39.5 percent from long range in the A-10, best in the conference.

The Bona men (12-6, 4-3 A-10) will attempt to end a three-game losing streak in their game against Richmond (12-8, 3-4 A-10). Richmond defeated the Bonnies, 71-56, at the Reilly Center last season.

The Spiders are coming off a double overtime win at George Washington. Bona lost at VCU last Sunday in its most recent game.

St. Bonaventure ranks second in the nation in free-throw percentage at 77.6 percent. Guards Jaylen Adams and Marcus Posley both shoot better than 85 percent at the line and are in the top seven in the A-10 in free-throw percentage.

The Canisius men (10-12, 5-6 MAAC) Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, coming off a 84-77 loss to Fairfield in Bridgeport, Conn., on Friday night, will be in Lawrenceville, N.J., for the first of two games against Rider within a week.

The Griffs will meet the Broncos next Sunday at the Koessler Center.

Rider (8-13, 4-6 MAAC) has been on a recent tear, winning four of its last five games, including a 79-75 triumph over Iona and a 76-45 rout at Saint Peter’s.