Men’s basketball: Bonnies host Niagara, look for Big 4 Sweep

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By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team has won six straight games against the other three schools in Western New York’s Big 4- Buffalo, Canisius and Niagara. The Bonnies will look for the Big 4 sweep for the second straight year on Wednesday at 7 in the Reilly Center when they host Niagara.

The Purple Eagles come into Olean with a 3-9 record, losers of six of their last seven games. The Bonnies had a four-game winning streak before a last-minute loss at Siena last Tuesday.

Bona hasn’t lost to NU since Dec. 11, 2010. Can the brown and white continue the success against the rest of Western New York tonight? Here’s the full breakdown:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 131-126 as Bonnies coach.

Niagara- Chris Casey. 18-57 as Purple Eagles coach.

Key players for Niagara:

Matt Scott- 6-foot-4 sophomore guard. Scott, a Brooklyn native, is leading the team on both sides of the court. Offensively, he has scored 16.5 points a game and dished out three assists a game, both team bests. The Purple Eagles are 2-2, with a one-point overtime loss, when he scores 20-plus points. Defensively, he leads the squad in rebounding, with seven boards a contest, and steals, with 1.8 a game. Scott is the all-around player Niagara will need against Bona.

Emile Blackman- 6-foot-4 redshirt junior guard. Like Scott, Blackman can also score in bunches, averaging 15.2 points a game and scoring in double figures in each of the last 10 games. On a team that only attempts about 20 three-pointers a game, he’s the team’s biggest threat from beyond the arc, attempting just under five a game and shooting about 32 percent. In the last two games, he was 5-of-11 from deep.

Justin Satchell- 6-foot-8 junior forward. The Miami native is the team’s third scoring option, scoring 8.5 points a game and shooting 35.9 percent (14-of-39) from three, with six double-digit scoring games. He’s also the second-leading rebounder, collecting 4.9 a game and registering seven games with five boards or more.

Keys to victory for Niagara: The Purple Eagles are below average in three-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot 35.4 percent from deep thus far. Against a Bonaventure team that attempts about 22 threes a game and has three games with 10 or more triples, they need to tighten up their perimeter defense and contain Bona’s main three-point shooters, Marcus Posley and Jaylen Adams.

Keys to victory for Bonaventure: In the last game before Atlantic 10 play starts up, the Bonnies should emphasize ball control. They have had six games with fewer than 15 turnovers this season, with single-digit turnover numbers in two of those contests. Against a Niagara team that does not force turnovers often (opponents have lost the ball just 12.1 times a game against the Purple Eagles), SBU should aim for no more than five turnovers in each half.

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