BUFFALO, N.Y. — Observing a tragic loss with hopeful symbolism, in the spirit of a new season’s beginning, Canisius College remembered a beloved member of the campus community at Monday night’s opening basketball games.

The Golden Griffins men’s and women’s teams wore “Choose Love” shirts during warmups and on the bench for Monday night’s game at the Koessler Athletic Center, in memoriam of the 10 lives lost in May from a racially-motivated mass shooting a mile away at the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue.

In between games, Canisius presented a $6,500 donation to the Lt. Aaron Salter Memorial Scholarship Fund, net proceeds from the sale of the Golden Griffins’ “Choose Love” shirts. Salter was a retired Buffalo Police officer working as a security guard at Tops on May 14. Soon to be a Canisius graduate, Salter fired multiple times at the gunman before he was shot and killed.

“He died trying to save others lives,” Canisius men’s basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon said. “That was a tragically historic even that our community encountered. Aaron Salter was a graduate of Canisius who spent important years of his life here. So for us to take advantage of an opportunity to engage with a very important message is something we need to earmark and highlight.”

Salter was three credits away from finishing his degree when he died. Canisius posthumously conferred his bachelor of arts degree at commencement ceremonies in May, giving the diploma to his son Aaron Salter III.

The Lt. Aaron Salter Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to award a graduating senior from a Buffalo Public or city charter school “whose work ethic and civic passion echo Salter’s and is mechanically inclined and interested in improving upon existing technology in such a way that will make life easer for future generations.”

A moment of silence was observed before the women’s game between Canisius and UB, who wore “Buffalo Strong” shirts in tribute to the shooting victims. Witherspoon and women’s coach Sahar Nusseibeh presented the donation to Salter’s friends and family at midcourt before the men’s game. Witherspoon said his team will discuss continuing to wear the “Choose Love” shirts throughout the season.

“It’s a very important message, and a simple one, but apparently it’s not easy enough for people to choose love,” Witherspoon said. “We have to talk about it with each other and not forget the historically tragic event, even if its difficult, because we still have hate that we need to root out.”

The black “Choose Love” shirts with the Golden Griffins logo supporting the scholarship can be purchased for $18 here.


Following a comeback win by the Canisius women, Witherspoon’s team did not fare as well in its opening game.

Malek Green, who transferred to Youngstown State after playing the past two seasons at Canisius, had 21 points and 12 rebounds in his return to the Koessler Center, leading the Penguins to a 92-81 win over a Golden Griffins team with nine new players.

“That’s the new age of college basketball,” Witherspoon said. “Guys are bouncing around the transfer portal and you can end up in that situation,” playing against a former teammate who was one of the Griffs best players on many nights, “and you just have to deal with it.”

Tahj Staveskie and Jamir Moultrie led Canisius with 19 points apiece in their team debuts. Tre Dinkins scored 14, Bryce Okpoh added 12, and Jordan Henderson scored 11 of the 16 points the Griffs got from returning players.


The new look Buffalo and St. Bonaventure men’s basketball teams opened the season with home wins.

Zid Powell, a junior college transfer, had 24 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals to lead UB in an 88-87 win against Colgate. Returning guard Curtis Jones scored 15 points and added five rebounds and six assists. Isaiah Adams, a Central Florida transfer, recorded 13 points and was 5-of-10 shooting (2 for 6 from distance).

In the final seconds, Jones extended the Bulls’ lead to 87-84, but Colgate threw away its inbounds pass that gave the Bulls the ball back with six seconds left. LaQuill Hardnett iced the game after making 1 of 2 free throws. The Raiders made a 3 as time expired.

Kyrell Luc scored 23 points to lead St. Bonaventure in a 71-58 win over Saint Francis at the Reilly Center. Luc, who was Patriot League Rookie of the Year at Holy Cross last season, also had five assists and two steals. Daryl Banks III, a starter for the Saint Peter’s team made a Cinderella run to the NCAA regional final, added 14 points. Barry Evans, a freshman out of the Putnam Science Academy pipeline that prepped recent stars Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi for Bona’s, had 12 points and eight rebounds.

The Bonnies play at Canisius on Saturday night, while UB is at home in the afternoon against James Madison, with Buffalonian and former Canisius player Takal Molson.


Niagara opened up with a 71-49 loss at Maryland in coach Kevin Willard’s debut with the Terrapins. Willard previously coached at Seton Hall, and Iona before that.

Braxton Bayless, a junior college transfer, scored 14 points to lead Niagara. Sam Iorio, a second-year Purple Eagle, added 12 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Maryland has won 46 consecutive home openers dating to the 1977-78 season during the Lefty Driesell era. It was also the teams first meeting since Niagara beat the Terrapins 86-70 in the opening round of the 2013 NIT.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.