Niagara Gazette

March 3, 2014

NU men edged in regular season finale

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The Niagara men’s basketball team wrapped up the regular season with another nail-biting defeat on Sunday to the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, 71-67.

“We competed very hard and I thought we defended well on the road,” head coach Chris Casey said. “A couple of offensive rebounds hurt us and we needed to make one or two more shots down the stretch. I’m happy with the way we competed and we have to bring that same competitive spirit next week at the MAAC Tournament.”

Niagara’s recent string of close games continued. For the sixth time in the last 10 games, the result would be decided in the final minute. Saint Peter’s (12-16, 9-11 MAAC) went 7 for 7 at the free-throw line in the final 51 seconds to hold off the Purple Eagles, who had their five-game win streak in the series snapped.

Niagara (6-25, 3-17 MAAC) roared into halftime with a 29-28 lead after closing the first half on a 10-0 run in the last four minutes. The tightly contested second half witnessed nine lead changes. NU used a 12-4 run, which was capped by a thunderous dunk by Joe Thomas with 8:52 remaining, to gain its largest lead of the game, 51-48.

The lead flipped twice over the next three minutes before a pair of free throws by SPU’s Desi Washington broke a 59-59 tie with 4:15 remaining for the final lead change of the game. A jumper by Antoine Mason cut the lead to 65-64 with 20 seconds left. Washington converted two free throws to give the Peacocks a 67-64 lead. On Niagara’s next possession, a game-tying 3-pointer was missed with 13 seconds left.

Mason led all scorers with 20 points to move into third place in career scoring at Niagara with 1,868 points. Marvin Jordan netted 17 points, draining five 3-pointers which tied his own season-high by a Purple Eagle. Wesley Myers added 11 points and shared team-high honor of four assists with Jordan.

Niagara will be the 11th seed in next week’s MAAC Tournament where it will face sixth-seeded Marist at 9 p.m. Thursday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN1520 AM and Purple Eagles All-Access.