Niagara and St. Bonaventure were victorious in women’s basketball on Saturday while the University at Buffalo and Canisius College’s losing streaks continued.
The Purple Eagles (3-3) romped over Kent State, 82-55, at the Gallagher Center, the largest margin of victory since Kendra Faustin’s first game as coach at Niagara. The Bonnies (4-4) used a 56-36 win over Southern (0-6) to snap their four-game losing streak and advance to the championship game of the Toledo Glass City Tournament.
Meanwhile, host Akron (6-1) took advantage of 20 Golden Griffins (2-4) turnovers to pull away with an 81-72 win, while the Bulls dropped their fifth consecutive game, this time to Bucknell, 78-71.
Niagara’s 27-point victory is the program’s largest since the 2007-08 season opener against Colgate (78-39). Lauren Gatto, who only played 21 minutes, scored 18 points and pulled in a team-high nine rebounds. Chanel Johnson added 16 points and eight rebounds, while Kayla Stroman and Kelly Van Leeuwen also scored in the double-digits, with 11 points each.
By halftime, the Bonnies built a 26-14 lead after shooting 41.7 percent while holding the Jaguars to 22.2 percent, a season-low for opponents.
The Bonnies jumped out with a 10-0 run to start the second half, and didn’t allow the Jaguars to score until the 15:41 mark. Bona built a 20-point lead with 12:49 remaining on a jumper by Ashley Zahn. Alaina Walker led the Bonnies with a game-high 15 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Zahn finished with 11 points and added a career-best six rebounds.
The Bonnies play Toledo (5-1) in the championship game this afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
Canisius led, 70-69, after a three-pointer from Jamie Ruttle with 3:14 left. The Zips’ Hanna Luburgh answered on the next possession with a three-pointer to put Akron up by two, then Rachel Tecca jumped a Canisius pass at the top of the key and scored an uncontested layup to put Akron up by four.
Two free throws from Ruttle brought Canisius within two, but the Griffs couldn’t get any closer and were held scoreless in the final two minutes.
Jen Morabito led Canisius with 20 points, including 5 for 10 from three-point range. Ashley Wilkes had 15 points and seven rebounds while Ruttle had 14 points and eight rebounds. The Griffs shot 46 percent and owned a 42-34 advantage in rebounding, but the Zips used a 21-5 advantage in points off turnovers to pull away.
UB trailed, 74-71, with 19 seconds left, but Bucknell’s Shelby Romine and Lindsay Horbatuck made two free throwns each to put the game away. Rachel Gregory scored 17 points, including 9 of 11 from the free-throw line, Karin Moss finished with 15 and Valerie Majewski and Kristen Sharkey added 11 each for UB (1-7).
In Big 4 men’s hoops, Niagara continues its non-conference schedule with a 2 p.m. game today at Central Michigan.
The Purple Eagles, playing their third of five consecutive road games, have lost back-to-back games. After a narrow defeat against rival St. Bonaventure, Niagara was clipped in its conference opener at Iona. Four Purple Eagles were in double figures, led by Antoine Mason who scored 24 points.
Niagara has won all three meetings with the Chippewas from the Mid-American Conference, most recently during the 2010-11 season when the Purple Eagles erased a nine-point second half deficit with an 18-2 run en route to a 61-55 win at the Gallagher Center.
Niagara coach Joe Mihalich, the winningest coach in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference history, is two wins shy from reaching 250 for his career.