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Men's Basketball Hosts 2019 Home Finale Wednesday vs. Rival Niagara

Men's Basketball Hosts 2019 Home Finale Wednesday vs. Rival Niagara

ST. BONAVENTURE (6-4) vs. NIAGARA (2-6)
Wednesday, Dec. 18 - 7:00 p.m.
Reilly Center - St. Bonaventure, N.Y.
Online Coverage: Live Stats | Live Video | Live Audio
TV: ESPN+ | Radio: Bonnies Basketball Radio Network
Complete Game Notes (PDF)

OPENING TIP
St. Bonaventure brings a five-game winning streak into its annual meeting with Little Three rival Niagara - and added incentive given that the Purple Eagles have taken the last two meetings in the series.

TICKET PROMOTION
Wednesday is Service Night at the Reilly Center as we honor all of our local current and former military, fire, police and EMS service men and women. All those who have served receive a FREE ticket and Salute To Service T-shirt (w/ proper ID) to the Bonnies game vs. Niagara and family members can purchase tickets for $8. For ticket information, visit GoBonnies.com/Tickets or call 716-375-2500. Veterans taking advantage of the Service Night promotion and their family members can redeem tickets with ID at the SBU Ticket Office windows. 

Veterans and their family members are also welcome to join a pre-game party (5:30-6:45 p.m.) and halftime party in the Reilly Center Veterans Lounge RC Room 213 (contact SBU Veteran Services for info - 716-375-2105).

SERIES HISTORY
Through the 100 years of Bonaventure Basketball the Bonnies have played Niagara 159 times – St. Bonaventure has only played one opponent more, that being fellow Little Three rival Canisius (168 meetings). St. Bonaventure first played Niagara during the 1920-21 season, its second as an intercollegiate program, and has since built an 88-71 advantage in the series.

Though the Bonnies have won six of the last eight games against the Purple Eagles, they are looking to snap a two-game losing skid against their regional rival. Last year, Niagara came away with an 80-72 win on its home court and the season before, the Purple Eagles upset a Bona squad playing without senior star Jaylen Adams, 77-75, in the 2017-18 season-opener at the Reilly Center.

ABOUT NIAGARA
In their first season under new head coach Greg Paulus, a former standout as a player at Duke, the Purple Eagles are off to a 2-6 start. Niagara entered this past Saturday with a two-game winning streak after Paulus picked up his first win as a head coach, 65-61, at Norfolk State Dec. 1, then followed that up with a 93-82 overtime triumph over Colgate at home Dec. 8. Niagara looked primed for a third straight win Saturday at Albany, owning an 11-point lead at halftime but could not hold on, falling by an 84-80 final.

James Towns paces the offense with over 16 points per game while Raheem Solomon (12.6 ppg) and Marcus Hammond (10.5 ppg) all average in double figures for a Niagara squad that scores 67 points per game and has on average allowed opponents to shoot nearly 48 percent from the floor. As a team, the Purple Eagles have struggled on the glass with a -10.6 rebounding margin on the year.

BONNIES NOTES

  • The Bonnies played without a full roster for the first five games of the season, missing sophomores Osun Osunniyi and Jaren English due to injuries. Their impacts are felt in many ways, but in particular – prior to English's debut Nov. 26 vs. Mercer, the Bonnies went 1-4 and shot 38.6 percent from the floor and 28.2 percent from beyond the arc. Since his debut, the Bonnies are 5-0 and have shot 45.5 percent overall and 41.8 percent from distance.
  • Defensively, Osunniyi changes everything for the Bonnies. He played just 11 minutes during the first five games as the Bonnies allowed 67.8 points per game, allowed opponents to shoot 42.3 percent and were -4.6 in rebounding margin. Since Osunniyi's return, the Bonnies are allowing just 54.2 points per game while opponents are shooting 37.0 percent. On the glass, St. Bonaventure is +6.2 in rebounding margin in those five games.
  • Sophomore Kyle Lofton has finished with 11 assists in each of the past two games, setting a career-high. He's the first Bonnies player to have double-digit assists in back-to-back games since Jaylen Adams handed out 11 vs. George Washington and then had 12 helpers vs. La Salle in February 2017. Entering this week, Lofton ranks 10th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • As of now, Lofton averages 6.4 assists per game. Only four players in Bonnies history have posted at least six assists per game for an entire season – Marques Green (twice – 8.0 apg in 2002-03 and 6.0 apg in 2001-02); Jaylen Adams (6.6 apg in 2016-17); Glenn Hagan (6.4 apg in 1977-78) and Jim Elenz (6.2 apg in 1978-79).
  • Osun Osunniyi is averaging 2.7 blocks per game through the first 40 games of his Bonnies career. That would rank first overall in Bonnies program history – Bona's all-time blocks leader Caswell Cyrus averaged 2.5 blocks per game over his 114-game career between 1996-2000, finishing with 289 swats. Osunniyi currently has 109 career blocks, good for sixth in program history. Denzel Gregg's 137 blocks from 2013-17 are next on the list ahead of Osunniyi.
  • Freshman Justin Winston posted his fifth double-figure scoring effort of the year with 14 points vs. Gannon Saturday.
  • After Wednesday, the Bonnies will not play at home again for 23 days – a Jan. 11 date with Fordham. The next four games will come on the road.
  • Freshman Alejandro Vasquez is shooting 50 percent from the floor – highest among SBU players that have played in all 10 games.
A-10 HONOR ROLL
  • Freshman Justin Winston is on the Atlantic 10 Weekly Honor Roll for the week ending Dec. 15 after posting 14 points vs. Gannon. It is his second time on the conference honor roll as he first was honored Nov. 25. Kyle Lofton also earned a spot on Dec. 15, his second time on the list this year.
  • Dominick Welch was on the A-10 Honor Roll Dec. 9 after averaging 16.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg and going 10-for-19 from long range in two wins at FAU and vs. Hofstra.
  • Osun Osunniyi earned a spot A-10 Honor Roll Dec. 2 after back-to-back double-doubles in two wins. For the week he averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
  • Freshman Alejandro Vasquez earned the honor once and sophomore Kyle Lofton landed on the honor roll for the week ending Nov. 17 as well.

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