St. Bonaventure vs Niagara Preview and Prediction
St. Bonaventure vs Niagara Preview
St. Bonaventure makes the short trip north to play its first road game this season, visiting Niagara for a Big 4 rivalry game on Monday night. The Bonnies, who topped Jackson State on Saturday with only eight scholarship players, are 1-1 on the young season. This will be the Purple Eagles’ season-opener.
This will be St. Bonaventure’s only contest in the Buffalo region this year–they play Big 4 rival Canisius at home later in the season. It will be a homecoming of sorts for the Bonnies’ two Buffalo natives, Amadi Ikpeze and Dominick Welch.
Courtney Stockard – OUT – St. Bona’s best player is continuing to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery he had over the summer.
Melkisedek Moreaux– OUT – Moraux is recovering from a hyperextension to his knee.
LaDarien Griffin– QUESTIONABLE – Griffin suffered a knee injury in the Bucknell game and his status is uncertain at this time.
In stark contrast to last year’s very experienced team, this year’s SBU team has five players who have not played Division I basketball before this season — four freshmen and Moreaux. The four freshmen are combining to average 31.5 points per game.
The Niagara/St. Bonaventure series dates back to the 1920-21 season. The Purple Eagles snapped a six-game skid in the series with a 77-75 victory at the Reilly Center in the 2017-18 season opener. It was also Niagara’s first season opening win since defeating Central Connecticut State in overtime, 102-93, to open the 2011-12 season.
The Purple Eagles are looking for consecutive wins versus the Bonnies for the first time since reeling off eight straight from 2003-2010.
This will be just the fifth meeting in the Gallagher Center in the last 12 seasons and the first since December 2013. The previous four meetings in the Gallagher Center have been decided by an average of 3.5 points with each team winning twice – Niagara (2007, 2009), St. Bonaventure (2011, 2013).
Niagara is 51-35 all-time at home versus St. Bonaventure.
Niagara is the Experienced Team
The Purple Eagles return eight letter winners from last season’s team that went 19-14, including earning a No. 3 seed in the MAAC Tournament with a 12-6 conference record, and received a bid to play in the CIT.
Niagara will be led by the senior captains core of Marvin Prochet (10.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg), Dominic Robb (7.0 ppg, 1.4 bpg), Chris Barton (5.0 ppg), and Greg King (4.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg).
Junior guard James Towns will step into the starting point guard role, while sophomores Greg Kuakumensah, Keleaf Tate, and Kierell Green will see added minutes.
The Bonnies are dealing with an insurmountable amount of injuries. I’m surprised to see them favored over a Niagara team that is bringing back a bulk of their players from a year ago. Sure, Mike Scott is no longer on the team, but the Purple Eagles are talented enough to beat an undermanned Bonnies squad.
To feel safe, take the points and Niagara to cover–but if you’re feeling adventurous the money line is not out of the question in Niagara’s home opener.
Niagara 73 St. Bonaventure 70