Niagara knocks off Canisius in OT

February 16, 2012 Updated Feb 16, 2012 at 12:46 AM EDT

By WKBW News


Niagara knocks off Canisius in OT

February 16, 2012 Updated Feb 16, 2012 at 12:46 AM EDT

NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. – The Niagara Purple Eagles concluded their home schedule by escaping archrival Canisius in overtime, 60-57, for their ninth straight win in the series at the Gallagher Center.

Niagara (12-16, 7-9 MAAC) improved to 12-2 in home regular season finales, including 4-1 against Canisius (4-22, 1-15 MAAC), and 12-2 against the Golden Griffins at home during the Joe Mihalich era. NU swept the season series for the first time since the 2008-09 season and the Purple Eagles lead this season’s Battle of the Bridge series, 13.5-6.5.

“It was a great win for us… against our archrival; it wasn’t beautiful, wasn’t pretty but at the end of the day we won and winners find a way to win,” head coach Joe Mihalich said.

Niagara was carried by three freshmen – Antoine Mason, Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley – who combined for 47 of the Purple Eagles’ 60 points.

Niagara, which lead 33-28 at halftime, had a seven-point lead until Canisius charged back into the game and eventually took a 45-41 lead with 8:37 left. A Green 3-pointer, followed by a breakaway dunk by Malcolm Lemmons was part of Niagara’s 10-0 run over the next four minutes.

Niagara led 55-51 when Canisius’ Chris Manhertz made two free throws with 39 seconds remaining. When Green missed the frontend of his 1-and-1, the Golden Griffins had a chance to tie and take the lead with 28 seconds left. After two missed jumpers by Canisius, Alshwan Hymes was fouled and he made two free throws to tie the game at 55-55 with seven seconds remaining.

Mason’s last-second contested 3-pointer hit the front of the rim to force the game into the overtime for the fifth time in the last 18 meetings.

In overtime, composure at the line made the difference as all seven combined points came at the charity stripe. Trailing 57-56, Mason made two-of -three free throws to put NU up 58-57 with 1:16 and when Canisius’ Gaby Belardo missed a layup with 11 seconds on the clock, Mason sealed the game with a pair of free throws. Mason scored all seven points for Niagara in overtime.

Mason finished with a game-high 21 points and went 9-for-11 at the line; his nine free throws are a career-high.

“I’ve been putting in extra time in the gym” Mason said about his free throw shooting.

Green scored 16 points and set the NU freshman scoring record during the game. Green now has 478 points which breaks Garry Jordan’s record of 462 set during the 1977-78 season. Tanksley had 10 points and had eight rebounds to lead the team in rebounding for the 10th time this season.

The Purple Eagles, who opened their season with an overtime win at the Gallagher Center, finished 7-7 at home.