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Bona faces major challenge at No. 7 Dayton

If St. Bonaventure ever needs Osun Osunniyi, its Wednesday night against seventh-ranked Dayton and the Flyers’ star Obi Toppin.

If cleared to play, Osunniyi, who missed Saturday’s loss at VCU with concussion symptoms, could be an important presence against the 6-foot-9, 220-pound Toppin, who has blossomed into one of the best strong forwards in college basketball.

The sophomore from Ossining in the Hudson Valley played only one year of high school ball, but he grew from 6-2 to 6-5 in his senior year, and then to 6-8 in a year at Mount Zion Prep in Baltimore.

Toppin sat out his freshman season at Dayton as an academic redshirt but came on last season to average 14.4 points a game. He’s up to 19.6 this season and is making 61.4 percent of his field goal attempts.

Bona (12-6, 4-1 Atlantic 10) is 11-2 when Osunniyi plays. The Bonnies are 11-0 when the 6-10 sophomore plays more than 18 minutes a game.
Bona and Dayton met only once last season, but it was memorable. The Flyers won, 89-86, in double overtime at the Reilly Center. Toppin made all five of his field goal tries but had only 10 points. Osunniyi had six points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.

Dayton (16-2) has suffered two overtime defeats on neutral courts, against No. 3 Kansas in the championship game of the Maui Classic and to Colorado in the Chicago Legends at the United Center in the Windy City.

They are 5-0 in Atlantic 10 Conference play after escaping with a 78-76 overtime win against defending conference tournament champion Saint Louis last Friday.

Toppin had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the game. Jalen Crutcher, a 6-1 junior guard, had 21 points.

Bona matched its best conference start (4-0) before the 91-63 loss at VCU. The Bonnies’ only win over Dayton in their last 10 meetings was in 2016 at the U of D Arena, 79-72.

Wednesday’s games

Mid-American Conference East women’ basketball co-player of the week Dyaisha Fair will lead the University at Buffalo (12-4, 3-2 Mid-American Conference at Ball State (11-6, 3-2) on Wednesday in Muncie, Ind. It was the fourth time this season the freshman from Rochester received the honor. She averaged 24 points and 6 rebounds in two victories last week and is fourth in the nation in scoring at 23.2 points.

St. Bonaventure (4-12, 1-4 Atlantic 10) will take on Saint Joseph’s (7-10, 1-4 A-10) in a 5 p.m. game at the Reilly Center.

MAAC honor for Griff

Malik Johnson of Canisius was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player of the week after he averaged 21 points with 8.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in home wins last weekend against Siena and Rider. It was the second time this season the senior from Richmond, Va., has won the honor.

Niagara gets TV game

Niagara’s game at Manhattan on Feb. 7 will be aired on ESPNU as part of the MAAC Wildcard Game television package. Niagara, Manhattan, Monmouth and Quinnipiac all have 4-2 records heading into this week’s conference games. Manhattan defeated Niagara, 67-62, at the Gallagher Center earlier this month.

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