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Big 4: Bona beats George Mason on road for 10th win

St. Bonaventure’s men made a stirring comeback from a sizable first-half deficit. The University at Buffalo women came close but didn’t get there in a 71-59 loss at Toledo Wednesday night in Big 4 college basketball.

The Bonnies fell behind by 15 after six minutes but roared back for a 61-49 triumph over George Mason in Fairfax, Va. The victory gave Bona (10-5) two straight road wins to open their Atlantic 10 Conference schedule. And they made the comeback look easy.

George Mason (11-4, 0-2 A-10) made six of its first seven 3-point tries to open what turned out to be its largest lead of the game, 19-4. The Patriots made only 2 of 15 3-point attempts the rest of the way.

By halftime the Bonnies trailed by only four, 31-27, as sophomore Kyle Lofton scored 14 of his game-high 17 points before the break and sophomore Osun Osunniyi came down with 11 of his game total of 18 rebounds.

Osunniyi, who blocked five shots, led a Bona to a huge 44-24 rebounding advantage.

There were other Bona heroes, though. Freshman Alejandro Vasquez scored all 11 of his points in the second half. Sophomore Dominick Welch, who did not score in Sunday’s win at George Washington, made the game’s first basket Wednesday, went quiet for a while until he broke out in a big way in the second half. Welch hit a 3-pointer for a 41-39 Bona lead and came back with another to make it 44-39 in an 8-0 run that began with a basket by Vasquez.

That caused a Mason time out, but the Bonnies kept on coming. A three by Bobby Planutis made it 52-41 and another by Welch put Bona in front 57-43 with 3:35 left. Welch collected most of his six rebounds as Bona held off the Patriots the rest of the way.
Justin Kier and A.J. Wilson had 11 points each for George Mason. After coming out on fire from 3-point range, the Patriots ended up with the same number of made threes as Bona.

The UB women (10-3, 1-1 MAC) suffered through a horrendous first quarter, outscored 24-7 by the Rockets (6-7, 1-1) in Toledo. Slowly they crept back and got within six, 61-55, to play. UB, however, scored only two more baskets after that, one was a three by Dyaisha Fair with 2:58 to play. Fair finished with 17 points, six below her average which is third in the nation.

Six turnovers by St. Bonaventure (3-12, 0-2 A-10) in the third period helped Massachusetts build a 14-point lead and the Minutewomen went on to a 62-52 victory in an Atlantic 10 women’s game at the Reilly Center.

It was the ninth straight win for UMass (12-3, 2-0 A-10) and first at the Reilly Center since 2007.

Bona led only once, 14-13, after a basket by Deja Francis in the first quarter, but hung around for a half before being outscored, 21-13, in the third quarter.

Senior Hailey Leidel led UMass with 22 points. Dajah Logan had 13 and Jurnee President 11 for the Bonnies.

Today’s games
Both the Canisius and Niagara women’s teams will open their home conference schedules with 11 a.m. games on Thursday against Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opponents.

Canisius (2-9, 1-1) will take on perennial MAAC power Marist (9-2, 2-0) in the 21st annual Kids Day game at the Koessler Athletic Center sponsored by Independent Health.

Niagara (2-9, 0-2 MAAC) will face Siena (2-10, 0-3) in its Kids Day event at the Gallagher Center.

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