By JONAH BRONSTEIN
Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Purple Eagles cooled off the two hottest teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference over the weekend and remained in the driver's seat of the league title race heading into the home stretch.
Niagara (16-11, 12-4) snapped Manhattan's four-game winning streak with a 60-56 win Sunday in Riverdale, building on their Friday night victory over a Marist team that had posted two impressive wins last weekend.
Bouncing back from a three-game losings streak, Niagara remains one game ahead of defending champion Loyola in the MAAC standings with two games left to play.
"We have a will to win," coach Joe Mihalich said. "Do we have great shooters, do we have great rebounders, are we exceptional at anything? The only thing we are exceptional at is the will to win and that is why I'm so proud to be their coach."
Once again, Juan'ya Green made the crucial shot for the Purple Eagles, knocking down a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down in the final minutes to push the lead to seven points. Green, who finished with 18 points and four assists, both game-highs, made four straight free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
"All this guy does is make us win," Mihalich said.
Niagara's seven MAAC road wins this season ties a record set during the 2000-01 season.
Leading scorer Antoine Mason missed his fourth straight game with an ankle injury. Marvin Jordan started in his place and netted 16 points. He also tied David Brooks for fifth-place all-time in career 3-pointers (204).
The Purple Eagles host the nation's highest-scoring team, Northwestern State, in Saturday's BracketBuster contest. The 3 p.m. game will be broadcast by ESPN3. Manhattan plays at UB on Saturday in a non-televised BracketBuster game.
The Niagara women's basketball team lost 59-43 at Siena to fall to 12-13 on the season and 7-7 in MAAC play.