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Niagara ready for national TV stage

A team that's consistently successful earns more than 15 minutes of fame.

With that in mind, the Niagara men's team will proudly introduce itself to the viewing public often over the next 14 days.

The Purple Eagles play the first of four straight televised games tonight when they hit the road for a key Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference clash at Fairfield (9 p.m., ESPN2, Radio 105.1 FM).

Niagara (20-6, 11-3), which secured its fourth 20-win season in six years during Thursday's 57-41 triumph over Canisius, trails MAAC front-runner Siena (20-6, 14-1) by 2 1/2 games with a game in hand over the Saints, the preseason favorite to win the conference title.

NU enters tonight's matchup on a six-game winning streak, a run fueled by its defense. The Purple Eagles have held their last five opponents to 55 or fewer points. Fairfield (15-11, 8-7) is on a two-game losing streak, which started during a 75-50 loss at Niagara last Sunday.

Niagara Sports Network will televise Wednesday's game at Rider, which will air locally on Ch. 67 and also be picked up by Fox College Sports.

Niagara hosts Illinois State next Friday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 as part of the ESPNU BracketBuster and hosts Siena at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 on ESPNU.

In other Big 4 games today, St. Bonaventure (12-11, 3-7 Atlantic 10) faces UMass (9-13, 4-5) in the Reilly Center (7 p.m., Radio 1300 AM, 95.7 FM).

In women's action, Canisius (18-6, 10-3 MAAC) has more at stake than a 10-game road winning streak when it squares off against Fairfield (16-9, 11-3) at 6 p.m. The winner will keep hope alive for catching first-place Marist (22-3, 13-2) for the regular-season title. The Stags beat Canisius earlier this season.

St. Bonaventure (18-6, 7-2 A-10) takes a three-game winning streak into the Bronx where it faces Fordham (8-16, 1-8) at 1 p.m. UB (5-18, 1-9 Mid-American Conference) hosts Northern Illinois (12-11, 7-3) at 2 p.m. (Radio 1340 AM).

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NU close, but no cigar

For the second straight game, the Niagara women came tantalizingly close to ending their epic losing streak only to come up on the short end of a 64-63 loss to MAAC host Loyola at Reitz Arena in Baltimore.

Candice Walker's fadeaway jumper with 15 seconds left provided the winning points for the Greyhounds (9-15, 4-10). Freshman Ali Morris' layup try before the final buzzer rimmed out as the Purple Eagles dropped their 22nd in a row. NU (1-24, 0-14) lost at Fairfield, 65-64, in double overtime Sunday.

Liz Flooks' layup with 28 seconds left gave NU it's final lead, 63-62. She finished with 17 points. Rachele Folino scored a career-high 27 points and had 10 rebounds for Niagara.

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