NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. - (Niagara Release) The Niagara men's basketball team concluded its home conference weekend with a dominating performance en route to an 86-67 victory over the Marist Red Foxes on Sunday at the Gallagher Center.
“I’m proud of our team for not just the way we played this weekend, but the way we practiced,” head coach Joe Mihalich said. “If our team learned anything, I think they learned how important practice is and how committed you have to be. When you practice hard and pay attention to details, you will play well in the game. I thought we did a good offensively but if we can improve defensively then I think we can be a solid team.”
Niagara (8-11, 3-4 MAAC) benefited from another fast start, as it did in Friday’s night win over Saint Peter's, racing out to 13-3 lead. NU forced 13 first half turnovers, included six in the opening four minutes, which led to 13 points. A pair of free throw by Malcolm Lemmons allowed NU to build its largest lead of the half, 37-21, with 7 minutes left.
The Purple Eagles held Marist (7-11, 2-5 MAAC) to 29 percent shooting in the half, but the Red Foxes stayed close thanks in part to its free throw shooting. The Red Foxes went 16-for-19 at the stripe in the first half, including making their first 13 attempts, and finished the game 31-for-36 at the line.
At 3:05 left in the first half, Marist cut the lead to 38-29 with an 8-1 run but NU responded by wrapping up the half on an 8-3 run, with baskets from Lemmons and Josh Turner, for a 46-32 halftime lead.
Niagara continued to make things difficult for the visitors throughout the second half. Antoine Mason connected on one of his career-high four pointers to extend the Purple Eagles’ lead to 80-53, their largest of the game, with 4:52 remaining.
Mason finished with a game-high 25 points, which was one-point shy of tying his career-high, on a career-high 62.5 field goal percentage (10-for-16). Lemmons tied a career-high with a season-high 15 points and had eight rebounds.
Marvin Jordan had another solid outing coming off the bench, with 14 points, four assists and one steal. Ameen Tanksley added 10 points and six rebounds.
Juan'ya Green orchestrated the offense with a career-best nine assists, however, his double-digit scoring streak ended as he scored eight points in the game.
Niagara made a season-high 14 3-pointers, while holding Marist to four.
“We are so young…and that is what is so exciting about this squad,” Mihalich said. “We are getting closer and better…we are nowhere near where we have to be but there’s a good feeling in that locker room that all the things we have talked about (in the locker room) that we are starting to get that feeling that we are getting better.”