Niagara Gazette — The high volume of fouls allowed Niagara back into the game, as Tahjere McCall got hot on the free-throw line. His eight free throws accounted for half of his total 16 points.
By the 12:10 mark of the first half, Niagara was whittling away a deficit that was a high as 11 points. Then Joe Thomas brought his team and the fans to life with a steal in his own end and a big dunk on the following possession. At that moment, Niagara trailed 29-24 but McCall cut the lead even further with a pair of free throws. By halftime, Niagara trailed the Jaspers by just two points, 39-37.
Niagara’s Marcus Ware opened the second half with two foul shots that tied the game. After a single successful foul shot by Brown, Mason put the home team ahead 41-40 with a layup. The teams then traded leads for most of the half.
The Purple Eagles opened up a 63-58 lead with 9:58 remaining when Wesley Myers sank a 3-pointer. Mason put up another layup and sank two free throws as Niagara put itself ahead, 67-61 with just under eight minutes remaining.
Manhattan took back the lead for good with just under three and a half minutes remaining. After the Jaspers’ Shane Richards missed a 3-point attempt, Ware drove to the basket but was called on an offensive charging foul. It was his fifth foul, taking him out of the game.
Manhattan’s Beamon responded with the go-ahead basket, followed by a steal by Michael Alvarado that set up another two points by Brown.
Two successful free throws by Mason put Niagara behind by just one point. Harris grabbed the rebound of a missed Beamon jumper with 11 seconds left and Niagara called a time out. Manhattan followed with its own.
“I called time out, my seniors grabbed me and said they’ve got it,” said Masiello when recalling how they drew up their final defensive play. “I said let’s get Mason. Make someone else get (the ball). If he gets it let’s run someone at him.”