By Jonah Bronstein
Niagara Gazette — AMHERST — Niagara's big offseason addition made his season debut Saturday night, but it was the one that got away the summer before that threw the Purple Eagles for a loss.
Will Regan, the local schoolboy star who played his freshman season at Virginia, had a breakout game with career-highs in points (26) and rebounds (eight) to lead UB in a 77-67 rivalry win over Niagara in front of 4,012 at Alumni Arena.
Devin White, the 6-8 transfer from LaSalle, saw his first game action with the Purple Eagles after recovering from offseason Achilles tendon surgery. Starting in place of Joe Thomas, who went home to Miami because of a death in the family, White played seven minutes in the first half and 16 in the second, finishing with four points, five rebounds and three blocked shots.
"I felt pretty good out there. I'd love to get right back out there and do it again and help my team," White said. "Conditioning-wise, I'm far off from where I need to be, but I'm going to keep working on it."
"That shows he's a player," said coach Joe Mihalich. "He wasn't in great shape, he didn't know the offense yet, we could only run one play and he still competed and he still made plays. That's what players do."
Juan'ya Green led Niagara 93-6) with 23 points and four assists. Antoine Mason had 18 points and T.J. Cline added 10. Freshman guard Tahjere McCall had a game-high nine rebounds (six offensive) as the Purple Eagles were just the second team to out-rebound (39-32) the Bulls this season. But the Purple Eagles were doomed by 36 percent shooting (24 percent from 3-point range) and 15 turnovers that led to 16 UB points.
Niagara packed in its zone defense to limit the opportunities for UB's leading scorer, Javon McCrea. It worked, as the Bulls all-conference forward didn't make a field goal and scored just three points.
"We were worried so much about McCrea," Mihalich said. "If you want to beat UB, for the most part, you have to make sure McCrea doesn't get 30. Did he draw so much attention that it allowed Regan and (Tony Watson) to get open looks. Maybe it did."
Watson had 14 points for UB, hitting three second-half 3-pointers, each coming when the Purple Eagles had made it a one-possession game.
"Any time we made a mistake," Mihalich said, "they made us pay."
Jarod Oldham also picked up the scoring load for UB, doubling his season average with 18 points, mostly on drives to the rim, and dishing out seven assists.
Regan, who came in averaging 9.3 points and 4.5 rebounds, shot 8 for 11 from the floor, 3 for 4 from 3- point range and 7 for 7 from the line. He nearly matched his season high with 14 points in the first half, and sank a 3 from the corner with 3:20 left that put the Bulls up 66-58. He also had a layup and two free throws in the final minute as the Purple Eagles frantically tried to close the gap.
"He was like the crafty veteran," Mihalich said. "He finally figured out where to get to get a shot."
"I've been playing with these guys for a while now and they do a great job getting me open looks," said Regan, who briefly considered Niagara when he decided to transfer in 2011. "It felt really nice, obviously, just to have a good game. I'm tough on myself so when I don't play to my potential, its frustrating. So to have a game like that is a relief, really, and a confidence-builder for me."