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Niagara defense spurs upset Manhattan held down; Canisius beat down

In its first game since leading scorer Charron Fisher suffered a season-ending knee injury, Niagara pulled the upset of the season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Junior J.R. Duffey scored 16 of his game-high 21 points in the second half Friday night as the Purple Eagles parlayed their best defensive effort in nearly two years to stun Manhattan, 67-51, before 1,712 in Draddy Gymnasium in Riverdale.

Manhattan fell a game behind Iona in the race for first place in the conference as the Gaels handed Canisius its worst MAAC loss ever, 95-58, in the Hynes Center in New Rochelle.

Niagara (8-12, 5-7) won in Draddy for the first time since 2001 by holding the Jaspers to 21 of 57 from the field -- and 3 of 23 from three-point range. Manhattan went 11 minutes without a field goal as Niagara used a 21-2 run spanning both halves to take control.

It's the fewest points NU has allowed since an 87-51 win over Marist on Feb. 5, 2004. It was a season-low point total for Manhattan (13-7, 9-3), which suffered its worst home loss since falling by 17 to Wichita State on Dec. 2, 2003.

Duffey was 5 for 9 from three-point range and finished with 11 rebounds. Clif Brown added 20 points and eight rebounds for NU, while James Mathis collected 17 points and 10 boards. Niagara held a 27-25 halftime lead and had a sensational second half, hitting 13 of 25 shots (5 of 7 from three-point range) and all nine of its free throws.

The Purple Eagles scored the first nine points of the stanza, including a pair of Duffey three-pointers, to take control.

Meanwhile, Iona (16-4, 10-2) missed nine of its first 10 shots and fell into an 11-2 hole before quickly recovering to overwhelm Canisius (5-15, 4-8). Steve Burtt led the Gaels with 31 points, hitting 5 of 8 from three-point range. Darnell Wilson paced Canisius with 17 points and Corey Herring had 14.

Griffs senior Kevin Downey had the worst game since his freshman year, scoring just two points on 1-of-9 shooting.

Iona used a 29-8 outburst to take a 45-31 halftime lead and led by as many as 38 points. The loss was the Griffs' worst since a 95-53 defeat at Indiana on Dec. 27, 1999. Their previous worst blowout defeat in MAAC play was also at Iona, a 102-66 drilling Feb. 9, 1998.

Iona hit 39 of 69 from the field and 7 of 14 from three-point range. Iona also had a 33-9 advantage in points off turnovers, taking advantage of 22 Canisius miscues.

Niagara is tied with Loyola, Siena and Fairfield for fifth place in the MAAC. Canisius is a game back in ninth and a game ahead of last-place Rider.

Both teams stay on the road for games Sunday. Niagara is at Fairfield while Canisius is at Rider, where it has never won.

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