Niagara never recovered from a 16-point halftime deficit Saturday night and dropped a 96-90 decision to Maryland-Eastern Shore, a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
The host Fighting Hawks made 18 of 27 first half shots (66.7 percent), including four of six from three-point range to build a 45-29 lead at the intermission. Niagara's torrid 62.9 shooting (22 of 35) in the second half was not enough to overcome that. The Purple Eagles wound up shooting 56.9 percent in defeat.
Senior guard Alvin Young led the Purple Eagles with a career-high 32 points. Center Kevin Jobity added 24, his career high, and pulled down 10 rebounds. It was the 10th career double-double for the 6-foot-10 senior from Toronto.
Niagara out-rebounded UMES, 38-28, but the Fighting Hawks shot 64.7 percent and forced 23 turnovers by the Purple Eagles. UMES had only 15 turnovers.
Eastern Shore received a balanced scoring effort with five players in double figures. Kevin Wallace, a 6-6 junior college transfer, led the way with 19 points. Another JC transfer, 6-5 Demetric Reese, had 16 and senior forward Ron Christian came off the bench for 14.
It was a big victory for coach Lonnie Williams' UM-Eastern Shore team (1-1). The Hawks lost their season opener to North Carolina State, 80-61. The school has had only one winning season in the last 20 but Williams is looking for a major improvement and hopes to challenge Coppin State for the MEAC title.
The Fighting Hawks were only 9-18 last season.
Besides its ballhandling mistakes -- Young had nine turnovers and point guard Jeremiah Johnson four -- the Purple Eagles had difficulty defending the perimeter. UM-Eastern Shore made seven of its nine treys and was 3 of 3 in the second half.
Niagara led, 15-11, after 5:30 but Eastern Shore went on a 10-point run to take the lead and never looked back.
In the second half, Niagara rallied to get as close as 90-85 with 1:04 left after Young hit a pair of free throws. That was as close as the Purple Eagles could get, as the hosts pulled away in the final minute.
Niagara's next game is at Long Island University Nov. 30 in Brooklyn.