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NIAGARA BLANKS MERRIMACK, SNAPS SKID

Kyle Martin scored twice, Peter DeSantis (Niagara Falls) had a goal and an assist and Jay Kasperek (West Seneca) had two assists as Niagara returned to hockey action Tuesday night with a 3-0 victory over Merrimack in North Andover, Mass.

Greg Gardner made 23 saves to register his fifth shutout of the season as the Purple Eagles (12-5-1) snapped a three-game losing streak in their first action since Dec. 11.

It was the 60th coaching victory at Niagara for Blaise MacDonald.

"A real terrific effort," MacDonald said. "This (Merrimack) is a team that has beaten Boston College when it was No. 1."

Next for Niagara is a two-game home series against Air Force Sunday and next Monday at Dwyer Arena.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Already off to the best start in school history, the University at Buffalo is looking for more tonight in the championship game of the Florida Atlantic New Year's Tournament in Boca Raton.

The Bulls, 59-52 winners over Northeastern in the first round for their eighth straight win, can match the longest winning streak in the history of the sport at UB with a victory in the championship game tonight against FAU. It also would be the first tournament championship for a UB team on a foreign court.

Coach Cheryl Dozier's team held off a Northeastern team that closed to within three points with seven seconds to play. Tiffany Bell hit two clutch free throws, then scored on a layup at the buzzer. Bell had 14 rebounds.

Sonia Ortega had 14 points while Mari McClure came back from a first-half back injury to finish with 13. Meanwhile, Kent (5-4) shot 52.4 percent (33 of 63) and buried St. Bonaventure, 85-45, at the Reilly Center. Angela Scott led the Bonnies (4-6) with 11 points.