BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — While the Sabres are away, the NCAA will play! After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Big 4 Basketball Triple-header was back at KeyBank Center on Saturday.
The opening game saw the Daemen Wildcats fall short to Franklin Pierce 83-80 in a nailbiter. Division II all-american Andrew Sischo picked up his ninth straight double-double, but fouled out of the game late as the Ravens salted the game away.
"Our guys enjoyed the opportunity. I mean we're very thankful to the people at the arena, Niagara, and Canisius who have included us," Daemen head coach Mike MacDonald said. "I think this shows where the program has come, and what we have. We're disappointed by the outcome, but it by no means defines us."
Niagara's effort against UAlbany helped them be the first Big 4 team in the win column on the day. The Purple Eagles prevailed 66-58 thanks in large part to 20 points from Marcus Hammond. Jordan Cintron and Greg Kuakumensah each chipped in 12, as well.
"Everybody played their part today," Hammond said. "We're all grateful for the opportunity to come play in this nice arena. When we came yesterday for shoot around, we were kind of in awe."
Canisius took on UB for the night cap, and the Griffs led 37-25 at the break. Buffalo stormed back to make it a one-possession game down the stretch, but Canisius senior Ahamadou Fofana iced the game with a three-pointer to help the Griffs to a 65-64 win.
Four local programs had the chance to play on one of Western New York's biggest stages. The next time basketball will take center stage at KeyBank Center, it will be one of the NCAA's biggest stages. Buffalo will serve as a host site for this year's March Madness.
This article will continue to be updated with all three of Saturday's results.