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Davonta Jordan helps UB basketball make final push to MAC Tournament

Davonta Jordan wistfully looks back on the Senior Nights he has witnessed as a member of the University at Buffalo men’s basketball team.

His freshman year in 2017, he watched Blake Hamilton bid farewell to the program. In 2018, he said goodbye to Wes Clark. Last year, Jordan gave his best to CJ Massinburg, one of five seniors who helped UB to its most historic season.

Now, it’s UB’s turn to say goodbye to Jordan, as he plays his final home game Tuesday for the Bulls.

As his four years at UB come to a close, he has some wisdom for his younger teammates.

“The example I want to leave for them? It’s not always going to go your way for you, but you’ve got to keep fighting and keep doing everything in your power to be the best you can be,” Jordan said. “When you do that, everything is going to work out for you.”

The senior guard from Cocoa, Fla., will be one of five seniors who will be honored prior to tipoff when UB (18-11, 9-7 Mid-American Conference) completes its regular-season home schedule at 7 p.m. against Miami (Ohio).

The Bulls are fourth in the MAC playoff standings but may well need to win out to earn one of the top four seeds in the MAC Tournament, which begins Monday with first-round games at campus sites of the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth seeds. The top four teams earn a bye to the MAC quarterfinals, which begin March 12 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

“All you can do is worry about the next game,” UB coach Jim Whitesell said after an 86-73 loss Saturday to Akron. “I’m worried about Miami. You play for Tuesday night’s game. You want to get better. The biggest thing. What we’ve got to get, is play better than this.

“I told them, we’re very capable of doing that, but other teams are trying to get it done, too. That’s called competition. We’ve got to rise up, play sharper, play better, be more complete on both ends of the floor.”

The Bulls currently are tied for fourth with Ball State (9-7 in MAC), and they’re a game behind No. 3 Northern Illinois (10-6). However, UB holds the tiebreaker over Ball State with a win against Akron; Ball State is 0-1 against the Zips.

“This is going to be two must-wins,” Jordan said. “Especially if we want to get a spot right there in Cleveland. We have to go out there and take care of business. Coach has been harping on that, that we still can do this. Put what’s in the past, keep it in the past and let’s move on to the next game.”

As he approaches his final game at Alumni Arena, Jordan also reflects upon how he has grown, personally. He’ll earn his degree in social sciences this semester. He has aspirations of playing professional basketball.

In November, he became a father to Niyunae, now almost four months old.

“Every time I’m mad with myself, usually about basketball, I just go home and I hold my daughter,” Jordan said. “All that does is bring happiness to me, no matter what the circumstance is or what kind of situation I’m in. Having a daughter is something that every man wants to have. Some men want to have a boy, but a girl brings a whole side of you that you don’t think you had.”

In his first three seasons at UB, Jordan helped the Bulls win two MAC Tournament championships and earn wins in the 2018 and 2019 NCAA tournaments.

“Each year, I added a layer to my game,” Jordan said. “Everything I’ve done here at UB, it turned me into an outstanding young man who works hard and who takes no days off.”

Jordan is averaging 11.4 points and 5.3 rebounds and has 152 assists in 29 games this season. In 131 games in four seasons, Jordan is averaging 6.9 points and 3.2 rebounds, and he eclipsed the 500-assist threshold Saturday.

Now, with two regular-season games remaining, Jordan will relish his final days at UB.

“It feels like yesterday I was walking through the door here,” Jordan said. “Now, it’s the last home game. It went by fast. It went by so fast. And I’m going to miss it.”

Bona women to A-10 tourney

The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team opens the Atlantic 10 Conference women’s basketball tournament at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Massachusetts.

The Bonnies (7-22) are the 12th seed in the 14-team conference. UMass, the fifth seed, defeated Bona, 62-52, Jan. 8 at the Reilly Center.

Asianae Johnson, a sophomore guard, leads the Bonnies with 12.4 points per game, while Deja Francis averages 9.1 points and Dajah Logan 9.0. Emily Calabrese leads the Bonnies with 6.1 rebounds per game, and Johnson averages 5.4 rebounds per game.

Sam Breen leads UMass (19-10) with 17.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Hailey Leidel is third in the Atlantic 10 in scoring (16 ppg).

The winner of the first-round game in Amherst, Mass., advances to the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals at 2 p.m. Friday in Dayton, Ohio, against the winner of No. 4 Saint Louis and No. 13 George Mason.

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