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Big 4 Notebook

UB women's basketball loses Summer Hemphill following knee surgery

Summer Hemphill underwent knee surgery and is expected to miss the remainder of the season, the University at Buffalo women’s basketball program confirmed in a release this week.

Hemphill has not played this season after being injured in the preseason.

A UB athletic department spokesperson told The News that UB has the option to petition for a medical redshirt for Hemphill, but that decision will not be made until after the season. That’s the case with many medical redshirt situations in college athletics.

Hemphill, a senior forward and Cardinal O’Hara graduate, was the preseason Big 4 women’s basketball player of the year and was named to the preseason All-MAC East Division Team. Hemphill averaged 14.5 points and 10.3 rebounds points in 26 games in 2018-19.

Mballa the middle man for UB

The UB men squeaked out a 76-73 win Tuesday against Ohio at Alumni Arena, and got some strength inside from Josh Mballa.

Mballa, a forward, blocked a shot by Ohio guard Jason Preston with five seconds left in regulation, which helped UB preserve its one-point lead, and played a season-high 28 minutes, due to the absence of forwards LaQuill Hardnett (illness) and Tra’Von Fagan. Fagan has yet to play this season after offseason knee surgery.

"Mballa, in the second half, came up with some big defensive plays in terms of help,” UB coach Jim Whitesell said of Mballa, who blocked four shots against Ohio.

As of Wednesday, Mballa leads the Mid-American Conference in offensive rebounds (65) and offensive rebounds per game (3.82) and is third in the MAC in rebounds per game (9.1) and total rebounds (154).

Mballa is also tied for 14th in the nation in total offensive rebounds and offensive rebounds per game.

The Bulls (11-6, 2-2 MAC) play at 2 p.m. Saturday at Central Michigan.

Patterson-Ricks on a roll

D’Jhai Patterson-Ricks, a senior guard on the Canisius women’s basketball team, has scored in double figures in every game this season.

Patterson-Ricks scored 16 points in a 68-63 loss Saturday against Siena, and has scored at least 15 points in nine of Canisius’ first 13 games. She has scored in double figures in her last 14 games – she scored 13 points in Canisius’ 64-53 loss to Monmouth on March 9 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.

Patterson-Ricks is fourth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in scoring (17 points per game) and is tied for fourth in the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage (38.5).

The Golden Griffins (2-11, 1-3 MAAC) play at 7 p.m. Thursday at Fairfield (6-6, 3-0).

Bona's Calabrese nears milestone

Emily Calabrese, a junior on the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team, needs 18 points to eclipse the 500-point plateau. Earlier this season, the forward had three rebounds in a 79-53 loss at Fordham, to earn her 400th rebound.

Prior to Bona’s game Wednesday at St. Louis, Calabrese had 481 points and 406 rebounds in three seasons.

Asianae Johnson, a sophomore guard, made her 46th consecutive start in two seasons, in Bona’s 62-47 win Sunday against George Mason. She averages 11.3 points and a team-high 5.5 rebounds, including 4.4 defensive rebounds, and entered Wednesday's third in the Atlantic 10 in free-throw percentage (43 for 52, 82.7% in 15 games).

Suits and Sneakers, for a cause

If you’re watching the Niagara men’s basketball team when it hosts Siena at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Gallagher Center, you’ll see Purple Eagles coach Greg Paulus and his coaching staff wearing some unique (and comfortable) footwear on the sidelines.

It’s a trend that’s going to run across college basketball next week.

Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers week begins Monday and continues through Jan. 26. College basketball coaches and their staffs – including the men’s basketball staffs at the Big 4 schools – will wear sneakers with their suits during basketball games, as part of Coaches vs. Cancer’s mission to raise awareness about cancer, including prevention, screening and early detection.

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