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Big 4 Hoops Roundup: Canisius holds off St. Francis while Bona loses at buzzer

Every time it seemed as if Canisius was ready to take charge of its game with St.  Francis of Brooklyn on Saturday at the Koessler Center, the Terriers would come bouncing back.

The Golden Griffins overcame the last surge, outscoring St. Francis, 31-20 over the last 8:37 for a 91-81 victory, their third in a row and fourth in the last five games including two on the road.

That couldn't match the drama at the Reilly Center, where St. Bonaventure rallied to take the lead in the final minute on a three-point play by Jaylen Adams only to lose on a shot at the buzzer by UNC-Wilmington's Denzel Ingram for an 81-80.

In other Big 4 men's basketball Saturday: Niagara held off Norfolk State, 65-61 and St. Bonaventure lost to UNC-Wilmington at the buzzer, 81-80. The Niagara women were no match for Syracuse, last year's NCAA tournament runner-up, falling to the Orange, 109-60.

Junior guard Kassius Robertson again led the Griffs with 27 points, including 4 of 5 shooting from three point range. He was 7 of 9 overall on his field goal tries and got to the free-throw line often, making 98 of 12.  Freshman Isaiah Reese contributed 17 points and seven rebounds, Jermaine Crumption (Niagara Falls) had 12 points and seven boards and Phil Valenti added 10 points and five rebounds to the cause.

Gunnar Olafsson, a junior from Reykjavik, Iceland, scored 22 for St. Francis, including 6 of 9 three-points. Freshman Rasheem Dunn was just as effective from the outside, hitting 2 of 5 in a 21-point outing.

Canisius led by eight early in the game, but the Terriers came back for an 18-17 lead on a three by Dunn. Canisius took of on a 7-0 run to make it 29-22,  a three by Olafsson cut it to 38-37 with 2:44 left in the half. The Griffs were in front 46-39 at the break and stayed in front until two threes by Keon Williams gave St. Francis a 53-48 lead. Robertson's three put the Griffs back in front, 57-56 but a three-point play by Dunn pput the Terriers in front again, 61-60. Valenti's  offensive rebound basket began the Griffs' final surge.

Bona trailed 40-35 at the half and fell behind  by 10 when the visiting Seahawks reeled of five straight points to start the second half. UNC-Wilmington still led, 76-71 with 3:23 left  but three-point shots by Matt Movley and Adams narrowed the deficit to 76-75. After the Seahawks answered with a three by Ingram with 1:57 left. After a Bona basket, Adams came through with a basket and was fouled with 14.2 seconds left and the Reilly Center crowd in a frenzy. Adams made his free throw to give his team the lead, 80-79, and Bona coach Mark Schmidt called a timeout. That when the Seahawks came down and Ingram hit his game-winner  as he was closedly guarded by Idris Taquee.

Adams finished with 18 points, below his 23.4 average, and six assists. Mobley had 17 points  and seven rebounds while Denzel Gregg had 12 rebounds and three blocked shots in the loss.

The loss dropped Bona to 6-3 and snapped its win streak at five. UNC-Wilmington improved to 8-1. The defending Colonial Athletic Association champions' only loss was to Middle Tennessee State.

Niagara (3-7) led for the last 16:56 against Norfolk State (2-8) at the Gallagher Center, but never by a comfortable margin. After a 30-30 first, half, the Purple Eagles tied the game on a pair of free throws by Shane Gatlin. A layup by Dominic Robb then gave Niagara the lead for good, 36-34. Niagara's biggest lead after that was nine points (58-49) with 4:37 left. Norfolk got within one (62-61) with 32 seconds left after a three by Zaynah Robinson, but a free throw by freshman JamesTowns and a steal and two more free throws by Kahlil Cukes closed it out.

Syracuse (8-3) used 14 players and 11 of them scored in the rout of the Niagara women (4-5) in the Carrier Dome. Senior Brittney Sykes led five double-digit scorers for Syracuse with 23 points. The Orange led 62-19 at the half after a 32-8 first quarter. Tiffany Corselli had 12 points for Niagara while senior Tiffany Granruth had 11 in just 10 minutes of playing time and freshman Jai Moore had 10. Sykes had a double-double in the first half alone, 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Sunday's games

Canisius and St. Bonaventure women's teams will visit the Buckeye State on Sunday. The Golden Griffins (2-6) will take on Ohio State (7-3) at Value City Arena in Columbus at 2p.m. Canisius is coming off a 65-52 loss at home to the University ata Buffalo on Thursday. All three of  Ohio State's losses were to ranked teams  - South Carolina, Miami (Fla.) and Baylor. The Buckeys are led by junior Kelsey Mitchell, who reached the 2,000 career points mark in just 79 games, faster than anybody in NCAA history.

The Bona women (4-5) also face a stern test at Toledo (7-1). The Rockets are coming off a 76-72 victory at Dayton on Friday. It was Toledo's first win at Dayton since 2003. The Bonnies have lost two in a row by handy margins, losing by 22 at home to Bucknell and by 19 at Eastern Michigan in the first game ofo their two-game Midwest road trip.


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