For the first time since losing leading scorer and rebounder Charron Fisher to a season-ending knee injury, there was nothing magnificent about the Niagara men's basketball team's performance in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference showdown.
The Purple Eagles lost their third in a row, falling hard Thursday night to Marist, 89-71, before 2,697 fans in the McCann Center in Poughkeepsie.
Niagara came into the game with a 3-3 mark since losing Fisher on Jan. 29 in the second half of a win over Rider. Its three losses had been by a combined 11 points, including a one-point overtime heartbreaker to Manhattan at the Gallagher Center.
But Marist eliminated the suspense early in this one.
After Niagara took a 10-5 lead on a James Mathis jumper with 16:07 left in the first half, the Red Foxes (17-9 overall, 11-6 MAAC) buried NU with a 24-4 run over the next 10:37. The Purple Eagles missed 12 shots and committed five turnovers to contribute to the burst. Niagara trailed, 44-29, at halftime and the deficit grew to 80-54 with 6:35 left.
Although Mathis almost had a great shooting night (15 points on 7-of-8 shooting and 1 for 1 at the line), his teammates had a miserable one. NU shot 37.9 percent from the floor, 18 for 58 (31 percent) excluding Mathis' showing. Marist made 57.1 percent of its shots.
Lorenzo Miles led Niagara (10-16, 7-10) with 19 points.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Canisius won for the first time in 10 years in Loundonville, beating Siena, 60-58, in a MAAC showdown. Megan Lyte scored eight of her team-high 19 points during a decisive 16-2 burst in the second half that allowed the Golden Griffins to recover from a 36-34 deficit. With the Saints clinging to a 38-36 lead, Amanda Cavo drained a three-pointer to give Canisius (16-10, 13-4) the lead for good.
Canisius needs to win at Niagara in Sunday's finale to clinch the second seed for the MAAC Tournament.
The Purple Eagles failed to give the Griffs any help with that in Baltimore, enduring a 76-44 drubbing from third-place Loyola. Loyola (17-9, 12-5) trails Canisius by a game and could move into second if it finishes with the same record as the Griffs because it owns the tiebreaker.
Niagara made just 7 of 30 shots in the first half and trailed, 37-17, at the break. It made just 28.6 percent of its shots for the game although Sara Prybyl made all of her four shots and her only free throw to lead the Purple Eagles (3-23, 2-15) with nine points.
Fredonia's Cheryl Kindzia (Williamsville North) earned All-SUNYAC First Team honors. She's the only conference player to average a double-double (15.6 points, 10.7 rebounds) this season.
WOMEN'S SWIMMING: The University at Buffalo's 200-yard free and 400 individual medley relay teams placed eighth on the opening day of the Mid-American Conference meet in Akron. UB stands last out of eight teams with 49 points. Eastern Michigan leads with 228.