ALBANY – It was gut check time in the fourth quarter for the Niagara women's basketball team, but they pulled away for a 60-48 win over Saint Peter's in the first round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament in Times Union Center Thursday afternoon.
Niagara, which saw it's 11-point halftime lead shrink to five after the third quarter, had to fend off a gritty Saint Peter's team.
The Peacocks closed to within four points when, with 8:25 left, D'Aviyon Magazine hit a three-pointer to trim Niagara's lead to 47-43.
The teams traded turnovers before Niagara got a bucket in transition from Kharysma Bryant. Victoria Rampado pulled down an offensive rebound and fed Bryant for a bucket and Niagara had a 51-43 lead. A fastbreak layup from Jamie Sherburne gave Niagara back it's double-digit lead, 53-43, with 3:56 to play.
The loss ends the season for last-place Saint Peter's season at 4-26 overall.
Rampado finished with 15 points and nine rebounds as sixth-seeded Niagara improved to 13-17 overall. Moore had 13 and Sherburne 11 for Niagara.
Early success: It was a battle in the first quarter with Niagara pulling away for a 14-11 lead. The Purple Eagles then used a 12-0 run to start the second quarter, capped by a three-pointer from sophomore guard Jai Moore to take a 26-11 lead.
Saint Peter's countered with a 6-0 run, but the Purple Eagles maintained their double-digit lead at halftime, 32-21.
Giving it back: Niagara led by as many as 15 in the first half (26-11) and had a double-digit lead with 4:28 left in the third quarter (40-30).
But Saint Peter's cut into that lead, trimming it to just three, 42-39, thanks to going 8 for 8 from the free throw line. They outscored Niagara, 19-13, in the third.
Closing it out: Niagara outscored Saint Peter's 15-8, in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
Up next: Niagara advances to the quarterfinals playing No. 3 Siena at noon on Saturday. While the Saints finished 11-7 in the MAAC and are 16-13 overall, Niagara swept the Saints in the regular season series. The Purple Eagles won in Loudonville, 73-68, on Jan. 7 and again in Gallagher Center, 65-50, on Jan. 15.