AMHERST, N.Y. — University at Buffalo’s men’s basketball team began a new chapter under coach George Halcovage with a high-scoring loss Monday night at home against Fairleigh Dickinson, the Cinderella story from last year’s NCAA tournament.
UB’s 92-86 defeat, in which it lead for only 35 seconds early, but battled back from down 12 early on to pull even in the final 10 minutes, followed the UB women coming back to beat Canisius 69-60, a measure of revenge for the Bulls after losing in coach Becky Burke’s first game a year ago on Main Street.
Elsewhere, St. Bonaventure opened with a 73-69 win over Longwood, and Niagara lost 70-63 at Notre Dame after leading at halftime and being tied inside the final eight minutes.
Isaiah Adams led UB scoring 28 points, with eight rebounds and five assists, while another holdover from last year’s 15-17 team, big man Jonnivius Smith, had 19 points and 19 rebounds. Shawn Fulcher, a junior college transfer in the backcourt, added 14 points and four assists. The crowd of 2,500 at Alumni Arena included former NFL receiver Anquan Boldin, watching his namesake score four points in his freshman debut.
But while the Bulls shot 42% on their home floor, the visitors made 48%, and earned an 8-point advantage from 16 more free throw attempts, as the Bulls struggled to defend without fouling.
UB women rally
Chelia Watson, a senior guard who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules after following Burke from South Carolina Upstate to Buffalo, had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists in leading the Bulls, who closed a 12-point deficit in the third quarter, and pulled in front with a 9-0 run midway through the fourth.
“I’m happy to start the season 1-0 and to win a crosstown game that we take a lot of pride in here at Buffalo,” Burke said. “This team is very young, we have a lot of new players, but they’re going to be really special.”
Mackenzie Amalia led Canisius with 16 points and eight assists, while Sisi Eleiko scored 15 and grabbed 19 rebounds.
Bona shows depth
Charles Pride, a transfer from Bryant with more than 1,500 career points, added 27 more to lead the Bonnies, who had nine players play at least 14 minutes and score field goals. Assa Essamvous scored 14 points, while Mike Adams-Woods, another accomplished transfer from Cincinnati, and Chad Venning each scored eight.
Bona exchanged the lead eight times with Longwood, and was tied 11 times against an opponent that has won 46 games over the past two seasons, but being from the Big South, a decided underdog against the Bonnies, expected to contend in the Atlantic 10.
“I started watching tape on these guys last week and I knew it was going to be a game,” coach Mark Schmidt said. “We came out a little shaky offensively, but our defense was decent. Our rebounding wasn’t very good and that’s something we have to fix if we are to have any chance this year. Longwood attacks. But it’s always good to win and then be able to correct some stuff. We made the stops when we needed to and it was a good victory against a very good team.”
Niagara fades late
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Markus Burton scored 29 points in his collegiate debut, Carey Booth added 10 points and nine rebounds, and Notre Dame began a new era with a 70-63 victory over Niagara on Monday night.
The game was tight throughout, then Burton took over in the stretch. His layup gave the Fighting Irish a 53-51 lead with 7 1/2 minutes remaining and began a 5-minute run in which he scored 13 of Notre Dame’s 16 points.
The Irish led 68-61 after two free throws from Tae Davis at the 1:30 mark and they closed out the victory in Micah Shrewsberry’s first game as head coach, replacing the retired Mike Brey.
Shrewsberry, the former coach at Penn State, brought a Top 25 recruiting class with him. Booth, Logan Imes and Braeden Shrewsberry – all flipped from their Penn State commits — and Burton, last season’s Mr. Indiana Basketball, made good on his commitment to Notre Dame.
Ahmad Henderson and Luke Bumbalough each scored 14 points for Niagara. Yaw Obeng-Mensah scored 13.
Niagara took an early 12-2 lead and never trailed in the first half. Notre Dame scored the last four points before halftime to draw within 30-29. The Fighting Irish tied the score at 31 early in the second half and they took their first lead at 41-40 on a 3-pointer by Booth with a little less than 14 minutes remaining.
The Associated Press contributed.