The three-point line has created a feast-or-famine week in the Big 4.
On Sunday, University at Buffalo sophomore Eric Moore drilled a school-record 11 threes in a last-second heartbreaker at Bowling Green. Monday night, Canisius didn't connect from beyond the arc at all in a Koessler Center loss to Manhattan, its first 0-fer since 1995. Then came Tuesday in the Gallagher Center.
Niagara more than made up for the Golden Griffins' futility by going wild with a season-high 15 longballs in an 85-76 win over Fairfield.
Swingman Charron Fisher led Niagara with 27 points and was 3 of 4 from three-point land. Guard Lorenzo Miles (19 points) was 5 for 9 and freshman guard Tyrone Lewis poured in 18 points, hitting 7 of 9 overall and 4 of 5 treys. It was Lewis' first action in seven games, since he suffered a knee injury Dec. 16 against Duquesne, and marked the first time he and Fisher have played together this season.
"It was a lot of fun. I loved every minute of it," Miles said. "It makes the game so much easier when we're at full strength, having Tyrone on the wing making three-pointers and with nobody being able to stop Charron inside."
A crowd of 1,301 saw Niagara go 15 for 28 from long range, the most treys by a team this season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and one shy of the school record set at Yale on Dec. 8, 2004. NU was 9 of 14 in the second half, when it shot a blistering 64 percent overall.
The Purple Eagles were just 11 for 77 from three-point range in losing their first three games. Since Fisher came off suspension, eight games ago, they're hitting 42.4 percent.
"We had those games where our guys couldn't foul, couldn't get tired, and couldn't get hurt," said coach Joe Mihalich. "And they probably felt like they couldn't miss a shot either because they had the weight of the world on their shoulders. Now it's all relief. It happened gradually."
Niagara (8-8, 3-2 MAAC) has won seven of its last nine games and got a huge lift from the return of Lewis. The freshman keyed a 14-0 first-half run with five points and an assist. In the second half, he had a three-pointer, an assist and took a charge in one 48-second stretch, and buried two threes in another 42-second span to put NU comfortably in front, 70-57. Fairfield (3-14, 1-4) never threatened in the last seven minutes.
"I had to prove to the coaches I was able to play because they were worried about my knee," Lewis said. "I understood I had to get my knee ready first, but I came out excited and ready to play."
"He was terrific," Mihalich said. "[During Friday's 92-81 loss to Siena] Tyrone's face was puffy because he was so hurt he couldn't play. That just tells you so much about a player. It hurt him to not be on the court."
Fairfield fell to 0-9 on the road. First-year coach Ed Cooley, who came from Boston College, limped through the game wearing a boot on his left leg after tearing a calf muscle in practice last week.
Niagara opens a two-game road trip Friday at Loyola.