Niagara men's basketball bounced back from Saturday's lopsided loss at Fairfield, defeating Manhattan, 72-63, Wednesday night at the Gallagher Center. The Purple Eagles are 13-9 overall, 6-3 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and winners of six of the last seven games.
Matt Scott scored 21 points and James Towns scored 13 as the Purple Eagles snapped Manhattan's three-game winning streak in the all-time series.
Moving on up: Scott needed five points to move past Joe Arlauckas for 11th place on Niagara's all-time points list.
"He's done what unfortunately you don't see enough guys do with jumping around from place to place," Niagara coach Chris Casey said Wednesday afternoon on the MAAC conference call. "He's built a career where he's going to be revered up here, as he should. People are going to very much appreciate what he's done."
Hats off: Manhattan came at the right time for Scott, who has been quiet offensively the past few games. He scored eight points against Quinnipiac and 11 against Fairfield, dropping him from first to third in the MAAC in scoring.
"These are the ebbs and flows of the season," Casey said. "People are paying a lot of attention to him defensively. We've been fortunate to have some other guys get into the scoring column. He's not scoring the ball as well as he did early on, but he's drawing a heck of a lot more attention."
Scott's back on track after Manhattan, a team he has historically been strong against. He's scored at least 20 points in five of his seven matchups with Manhattan.
Inching to 1,000: Kahlil Dukes is 32 points away from scoring 1,000 points at Niagara. He's played in only two seasons with the Purple Eagles after starting his career at the University of Southern California. He scored 92 points in two seasons with the Trojans.
Under pressure: Manhattan entered the game ranked 31st nationally in turnovers caused, averaging 17 per game. The Jaspers played Niagara tight from the start, forcing a turnover on an in-bounds play in the first minute of the game. The Jaspers' full-court press was aggressive, causing the Purple Eagles to turn over the rock 11 times.
First half: The turnovers kept Manhattan in the game despite shooting 34 percent from the field, ten percent worse than Niagara, and hitting two fewer three-point shots in the first. The teams swapped the lead seven times and tied four times, with Niagara holding its largest lead of the half, 40-33, at the break.
The big apple: Manhattan boasts the most efficient shooter and best shot blocker in the MAAC in 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Pauly Paulicap, a junior college transfer. Paulicap made 60 percent of his shots from the field and averaged 2.5 swats a game coming into Wednesday's matchup. He was a thorn in Niagara's side, scoring 18 points on 5 of 11 from the field and 8 of 10 from the free-throw line. He also had nine rebounds, three blocks and went on a 7-0 run by himself to propel the Jaspers to a 25-24 lead with 7:01 remaining in the first half.
Up Next: The Purple Eagles play rival Canisius (13-8, 7-1 MAAC) at the Koessler Athletic Center Saturday at 7 p.m. It's the first time since 2014 the schools have met when they both have winning records in the MAAC. The game can be viewed online at ESPN3.