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St. Bona and Canisius winners in Big Four Classic

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Photo by Mark Scott
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WBFO News

More than five thousand fans turned out at the KeyBank Center Saturday for the Big Four Classic. All four of the region's Division One men's basketball teams played. St. Bonaventure beat Niagara in the opener, while Canisius topped UB in overtime in the second game.

The turnout was disappointing by historical standards. Such games at the old Aud in the 1960s attracted capacity crowds.

Still, those fans who did show up were enthusiastic.  Tom Campbell -- a Bona grad and editor-publisher of the online newspaper, WNY Labor Today -- was among them. Campbell said he hopes more people will turn out for these special games.

"This town hasn't been supportive of local college basketball in recent times. But with the resurgence of UB and St. Bonaventure playing well, it's good to see fans coming out today," Campbell said.

Some fans WBFO News talked with said if more games involving local teams were played at the KeyBank Center, perhaps interest and attendance would increase.

"Certainly the bars and restaurants would favor it," said Pete Starkey.

In the opening game of the Big Four Classic, St. Bonaventure held off a competitive Niagara team 79-69. Then, the Canisius Golden Griffins gave their coach Reggie Witherspoon a win over his old team, the University at Buffalo. The Griffs needed overtime to beat the Bulls 94 to 87.