Niagara Gazette — STAFF REPORTS
The Niagara County Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams continued the stellar starts to their seasons Tuesday, each improving to 9-0 with wins over Lakeland Community College in Lake County, Ohio.
The men — honored with a No. 10 ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II polls earlier this week — took down the seventh-ranked Lakers 92-87 in overtime.
The Thunderwolves trailed by double digits in each half. Down 12 early in the first, coach Bill Beilein switched to a 1-3-1 zone and watched his team pull within 37-35 at half. After stumbling out of the gates again and trailing by 10, Beilein said his team spread the ball around and got better flow offensively, eventually taking the lead before the Lakers tied it late.
NCCC led throughout the entire overtime and was able to put the game away with free throws. Gjaimeir Stanford led the T-wolves with 18 points, while Eli Jones and Jordan Street (Niagara Falls) each had double-doubles. Jones had 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Street had 11 points and 14 boards. Sheldon Zablotny and bench scorer Chuka Ikbeze each had 16 points, while starter EJ Sandoval added 12.
Knocking off a higher-ranked opponent is a good win, but Beilein said he isn’t worrying about the polls yet.
“I think 10 is a great spot for us,” he said. “We have a lot of things we need to improve on as a basketball team. There are some IQ plays: when to pull the ball out, making the right passes, knowing our system. We’re a really young team, but we’ve got a lot of guys who know how to grind out wins.”
The women’s team also continued it’s undefeated opening run, beating the Lakers 65-53.
Jesse DeWaters (Royalton-Hartland) had her second triple-double of the season, tallying 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Kristine Ripson (Lewiston-Porter) continued her dominant play, scoring 20 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking four shots.
Both teams host Cayuga Community College today. The women open at 5:30 p.m., with the men scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m.
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Niagara University’s basketball teams haven’t enjoyed nearly as much success as their counterparts at NCCC.
The NU men’s team lost its sixth straight Monday by a large margin, falling 86-61 at Arkansas State. The Purple Eagles (1-7) were outplayed across the board, with the Red Wolves (5-2) finishing with a better shooting percentage, more free throw attempts, more rebounds, more assists, more second chance points and less turnovers while leading the entire way.
Antoine Mason again led NU in points with a game-high 20. While the total marked a season-low for the junior, it was enough to keep his average at a nation-leading 30 per game, 4.2 higher than second place. Marvin Jordan was the only other Purple Eagle to crack double figures, scoring 14.
Niagara next hosts Siena at 7 p.m. Friday in its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener.
The NU women’s team beat Binghamton on Nov. 23 for its first win of the season, then dropped its next game to Oakland University (Mich.) on Nov. 27. The Purple Eagles (1-4) will look to get back in the win column at 5 p.m. today when the play at Kent State.