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Niagara men get first baskeball victory of season

The Canisius and St. Bonaventure men’s teams and the University at Buffalo women stayed on their winning ways and the Niagara men won their first under new coach Greg Paulus in Sunday’s Big 4 college basketball.

Niagara forced 15 turnovers and took care of the ball with only nine, in defeating Norfolk State, 65-61, in Norfolk, Va., after opening the season with five straight losses.

After the host Spartans had taken a 49-43 lead, their largest of the game, Niagara went on a 12-0 run to go in front to stay. A 3-pointer by Marcus Hammond put the Purple Eagles in front, 50-49, before Noah Waterman hit a 3-pointer and another basket to complete the run.

Norfolk closed to 57-56, but junior Greg Kuakumensah came through with a three-point play and another basket to make it 61-56 with 2:16 left.

Kuakumensah had 15 points, James Towns 13 and Waterman 10 for Niagara.

Both Canisius and Bona scored victories in their brackets of the Boca Raton Beach Classic in Boca Raton, Fla.

Coach Reggie Witherspoon’s surprising Canisius Golden Griffins won their fourth straight, defeating Mercer, 76-66.

Later, Dominick Welch, Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi scored clutch points in the final three minutes to help the Bonnies to a 70-61 triumph over San Diego.

The Golden Griffs (4-2) will take on an old rival, former Niagara coach Joe Mihalich, and Hofstra (5-3) on Monday night in the Naismith Bracket of the Boca while St. Bonaventure (3-4) will face host Florida Atlantic (4-3) in the Hall of Fame Bracket. Hofstra played its way into the game against Canisius by overpowering Holy Cross, 91-69. FAU edged UIC, 71-70, on Sunday on a free-throw by 6-foot-11 center Karlis Silins with four-tenths of a second left in the regulation.

Junior Majesty Brandon came off the bench and scored 16 points to lead the Canisius victory. His scoring line included seven field goals in 10 attempts, along with four assists, three rebounds and two steals. Freshman Jacco Fritz also had 16 points in the victory while Malike Johnson had 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Fritz made all five of his field goal attempts and was 6 for 8 on free throws.

Canisius continued the hot shooting it showed in Wednesday’s 86-56 rout of UIC in a campus site game of the Boca Classic. The Griffs made 29 of 57 shots for 50.9 percent although they were only 3 of 15 from 3-point range.

“This is the first time this season we’ve out-rebounded our opponent, we limited turnovers and we shot well from the free-throw line in the same game,” Witherspoon noted. “We’ve been talking as a group about focusing on those three areas, and I thought we did a good job with all three aspects today.”

Ethan Stair scored 17 points and Djordje Dimitrijevic 16 for Mercer (4-4).

St. Bonaventure (3-5) won it second in a row since Osunniyi returned from a leg injury suffered in the league opener. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Osunniyi’s layup with 12:49 left put the Bonnies in front for good, 45-44, but they had to hold off the Torreros and their 3-point shooting aces Braun Hartsfield and Joey Calcaterra to the finish.

Bona led only 59-56 with 3:20 left before Lofton hit a jump shot with 2:28 left.

Then Welch hit a 3-pointer, Osun scored a basket and Lofton and Welch made four straight free throws. Welch came down with a defensive rebound with 11 seconds left to end any doubt. The former Cheektowaga star had 16 points and six rebounds. Lofton finished with 11 points. Sophomore Jaren English scored 12 for Bona.

The hot scoring pace of freshman Dyaisha Fair cooled down a little, but the UB women (6-2) rolled to a 73-55 victory over American in the Saint Joseph’s Tournament at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia.

Fair had 12 points but made only 5 of 19 shots from the field (0 for 6 from 3-point range) while Theresa Onwuka had 18 points. Freshman Elea Gaba had 12 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.

Fair was averaging 26 points for seven games before Sunday and had scored 24 or more in seven straight games.

Onwuka made all seven of her field goal attempts and all four free throws. She improved her field goal percentage to 59.4 for the season and her free-throw percentage to 89.5.

Niagara senior Maggie McIntyre scored a career-high 26 points, but the Purple Eagles (1-6) fell to Colgate (6-2), 85-72, in Hamilton. McIntyre made 6 of 9 3-point tries and 9 of 13 field goal attempts overall in her big game. Jai Moore added 14 points for Niagara. Taylor Langan scored 23 for Colgate.

Niagara’s last lead was 13-12 before the Raiders moved out to a 27-20 lead in the first quarter and led 41-36 at halftime. Colgate led by double digits most of the second half.

The Niagara women will be off for nearly two weeks. The Purple Eagles’ next women’s game is not until Dec. 14 at Albany.

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