Niagara University coach Joe Mihalich will coach today’s game against Big 4 rival St. Bonaventure with a heavy heart.
Mihalich’s mother, 87-year-old Dolores, lost a lengthy bout with colon cancer Wednesday afternoon. She was one of the memorable story-lines in the 2005 NCAA Tournament when newspapers across the country wrote about her zest for life even while battling the deadly disease.
USA Today described Dolores Mihalich as being “wily as a point guard and as tough as a power forward.”
The Purple Eagles (2-2) and the Bonnies (2-1) meet for the 153rd time at 4 this afternoon at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena in what’s being dubbed the “Thanksgiving Throwdown.”
The Blue Cross Arena hasn’t been very hospitable for St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies are 6-11 overall and 1-6 since 2000, including six consecutive losses. St. Bonaventure lost at the buzzer last year against North Carolina State, 67-65, in a back-and-forth game that featured 11 lead changes and nine ties.
Elsewhere, Canisius College (3-0) goes on the road for the first time this season to face Stony Brook (3-1) at noon. The Golden Griffins knocked off Boston University, St. Bonaventure and the University at Buffalo to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2000-01.
The Bulls (1-5) look to end a three-game losing streak when they host Division II Mansfield (1-0) at 7 p.m. at Alumni Arena. The availability of senior guard Tony Watson (ankle) and sophomore Xavior Ford (concussion) is unclear. Both missed the Canisius game with injuries.
In Big 4 women’s basketball, 24 turnovers and 4-of-16 shooting from three-point range proved to be the downfall for St. Bonaventure (3-2), which fell to No. 8 ranked Georgia (6-0), 84-48, in the first game of the New Mexico Thanksgiving Tournament.
The Bulldogs used an 18-3 run late in the first half to build a comfortable lead as the Bonnies were never able to find an offensive rhythm.
Freshman Nyla Rueter led the Bonnies in scoring for the first time in her career with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and 2-of-2 from three-point range. The Hagerstown, Ind.. native added three rebounds and an assist in 20 minutes. Bonnies leading scorer Doris Ortega, who was shut out in the first half, went 2-for-3 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the free throw line in the second half for six points. The Bonnies play the loser of host New Mexico and North Texas tonight.
Also, UB’s scoring woes continued after losing to No. 24 Dayton, 68-44, in the first round of the Marriott Classic. The Bulls came into the game averaging just 54.8 points a game and saw the host Flyers pull away with a thunderous 23-0 run early in the second half as UB was held without a field goal for nearly 12 minutes.
The Bulls’ Rachael Gregory hit a jumper just over two minutes into the second half, then the Flyers’ Amber Deane ignited the spurt with a layup. Gregory, who led the Bulls in scoring with 12 points, finally ended the run with a pair of free throws with 6:24 left.
Gregory connected on 8-of-12 from the free-throw line but was just 2-of-12 from the floor as UB shot a miserable 5-of-28 in the final 20 minutes. UB faces Eastern Illinois today.