Niagara 70, Illinois State 56, Final: The Redbirds made a push at the end, but Niagara was able to make some key plays down the stretch to pull it out. This was a huge non-league win that should go a long way to determining Niagara's postseason future.
Niagara 62, Illinois State 54, 1:57 left: Tyrone Lewis made two free throws then Nelson tapped in his own miss. The Purple Eagles are letting the air out of the ball and killing the clock.
Niagara 58, Illinois State 52, 3:39 left: Illinois State is making a push. Champ Oguchi scored eight consecutive points and they got two more baskets inside from Brandon Sampay and Emmanuel Holloway. Niagara is getting impatient on offense, although Lewis is going to the line after a pretty back door cut off a pass from Nelson.
Niagara 56, Illinois State 42, 7:10 left: Every time Illinois State makes a run, Niagara has an answer. The Redbirds went on a 5-0 run only to have Niagara get three consecutive steals on their next three possessions which they converted into four points.
Niagara 47, Illinois State 34, 11:54 left: Niagara plays so much better with Nelson on the floor. He's played only 11 minutes and already has four assists.
Niagara 43, Illinois State 28, 16:49 left: Nelson just flipped a pass behind his head for a dunk to Egemonye.
Niagara 35, Illinois State 23, halftime: Niagara has cooled off considerably after going up 35-15 at one point. They are taking bad shots and not running their offense. There's a lot of isolation and going one-on-one with minimal results. Nelson returns in the second half which should help calm down the offense as will Egemonye who also had to sit with two fouls. Lewis leads all scorers with 13 points.
Niagara 29, Illinois State 13, 6:07 left: The Purple Eagles are rolling. They've hit 6 of 9 three-pointers and leading scorer Tyrone Lewis is 3 of 4. His jumper is so pure tonight that the net isn't even moving when it goes in. Calvin Murphy is now leading the student section in the "Roller Coaster Ride."
Niagara 17, Illinois State 6, 11:37 left in the half: The Purple Eagles are on an 11-2 run and the Redbirds appear rattled. Demetrius Williamson came off the bench and popped two three-pointers and Benn fired one right in front of the Illinois State bench.
Niagara 6, Illinois State 4, 14:49 left in the half: Both teams seem tense and are taking ugly shots. This is a big game for both teams so nerves are to be expected. The Purple Eagles full court pressure is bothering the Redbirds and forced two early turnovers. Nelson has two fouls which would hurt most teams but Garrison and Benn can both play the point so Niagara should be fine.
Pregame: The legendary Calvin Murphy is here wearing an all white suit. The student section is also decked out in all white. The Gallagher Center has never been louder.
Probable starters for tonight's game
G Landon Shipley
G Osiris Eldridge
G Emmanuel Holloway
F Champ Oguchi
F Dinma Odiakosa
G Anthony Nelson
G Tyrone Lewis
G Rob Garrison
G/F Bilal Benn
C Benson Egemonye