Niagara Gazette — A second-half comeback effort fell short Thursday evening as the Niagara Purple Eagles fell to the USC Upstate Spartans, 83-74, in a game played at Kent State in Kent, Ohio as part of a Coaches vs. Cancer Classic subregional.
NU (1-2) dug itself an enormous hole in the first half, allowing the Spartans (2-2) to shoot 55.2 percent (16 of 29) from the field and 57.1 percent (8 of 14) on 3-pointers as the Purple Eagles fell behind. USC Upstate hit three straight 3-pointers to close the half with a 47-28 advantage.
A furious comeback cut the deficit down to four with 1:45 left in the game, thanks to 32 combined second-half points from captains Antoine Mason and Marvin Jordan. Mason scored 21 of his game-high 31 points after the break, while Jordan scored each of his 11. Jordan also scored his 1,000th career point when the marksmen knocked down his 219th career three.
“We didn’t make shots early on and they took advantage," NU coach Chris Casey said through a release. "We did a good job of working our way back into the game in the second half and showed a lot of fight.”
The Purps went on an 11-0 run to cut the USC Upstate lead to 57-42 with 12:02 left in the second half. Trailing 65-50, Mason and Jordan knocked down four straight 3-pointers to help NU pull closer. Jordan's third and final 3-pointer pulled NU to 73-69 with 2:50 left, but a few misses from the field and the Spartans going 5 for 8 on free throws sealed the Purple Eagles' fate.
NU was out-rebounded 45-35 in the game and had no answer for USC Upstate forward Torrey Craig, who finished 7 for 12 from the field, 3 of 4 from deep and 9 of 12 from the line for 26 points. NU forwards Rayvon Harris, Ramone Snowden, Marcus Ware and Joe Thomas combined for just 12 boards, one less than Spartan starter Jodd Maxey.
Freshmen Cameron Fowler, Wes Myers and Snowden combined for just 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
NU will play Western Carolina at 5 p.m. tonight (ESPN 1520 AM) in another Coaches vs. Cancer subregional game at Kent State.