PHILADELPHIA – Antoine Mason led Niagara in scoring for the sixth straight game but the Purple Eagles fell to the Penn Quakers, 85-66, on Tuesday night from the legendary Palestra.
Mason, the nation’s leading scorer at 31 points per game, scored his average in tonight’s contests for his fifth 30-point game of the season. The Queens, N.Y. native poured in 24 second half points, his fourth straight game of netting 20-plus in the second half, and his team-best seven rebounds were a season-high.
The Purple Eagles, who were playing their fourth of six straight away from home, struggled early offensively while Penn (2-3) shot over 54 percent from the field in each half en route to the win.
“I thought our guys competed, but we need to be better against the zone, make more shots and be better defensively,” head coach Chris Casey said. “Penn did a very good with their zone and kept us out of the paint. We didn’t do a good job rebounding either; they hurt us with offensive rebounds and getting to the basket.”
Niagara (1-5) led 14-13 nine minutes into the game, before the Quakers reeled off a 17-3 run on their way to a 41-28 halftime lead.
The Purple Eagles made a habit of digging themselves out of double-digit deficits during the three-game Coaches vs. Cancer Classic from Nov. 21-23 before falling short in each game. Tonight however, Niagara was unable to cut the lead to under double-digits. Niagara shot over 42 percent from the field in the second half, but they also went 4-for-18 from behind the 3-point line for the entire game.
Niagara continues its road trip on Saturday at 4 p.m. EST against the Northwestern State Demons in a rematch of last season’s BracketBusters contest. The game will be broadcast on ESPN 1520 AM and on Purple Eagles All-Access.