Despite its best shooting performance of the season, Niagara fell to Central Connecticut, 74-71, Sunday in New Britain, Conn.
In a game that featured 10 lead changes and eight ties, the Purple Eagles (3-8) were a season-high 48 percent from the field. Considering NU's problems on offense this season, that was a small step forward.
But NU couldn't pull through late to seal the win.
A three-pointer by NU's Anthony Nelson with 18 seconds left cut the Blue Devils' lead to 72-71. On Central Connecticut's next possession, Shemik Thompson hit a pair of free throws to give his team a three-point lead. On Niagara's last chance, Kashief Edwards missed a three-pointer as time expired.
For Niagara, which shot 24 for 50 from the field, Nelson scored 24 points in 40 minutes. Marvin Jordan added 15 points as Edwards and Eric Williams (eight rebounds) each added 10. The problem, as it has been in recent years, came on defense. Ken Horton and Robby Ptacek combined for 48 points to power Central Connecticut (5-5).
In other Big 4 men's action, Canisius (4-6) lost on the road to Northwestern State, 86-74. In defeat, Elton Frazier scored 22 points, Greg Logins added 17 and Robert Goldsberry had 15 with seven assists.
The Golden Griffins hung around for a while, trailing only by 39-36 at the half. But poor shooting -- 24 of 66 from the floor -- prevented Canisius from keeping up. For Northwestern State (8-3), Devon Baker scored 22 points.
Canisius women win
The Canisius women's team rode the hot hand of Jen Morabito to win at Cornell, 66-58, on Sunday to improve to 3-6 on the season. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for the Griffs. The freshman Morabito scored a career-high 24 points, going 5 for 8 behind the three-point line.
"The nice thing is Jen did it in the flow of the game and also handled the pressure well," Canisius coach Terry Zeh said. "We came out and started the second half really well, which has been a point of emphasis for us. We showed our youth a little bit at times, but getting road wins always helps with a team's development."
Morabito made shots to quiet Cornell runs throughout the course of the game. When the Big Red (1-7) made four three-pointers in a three-minute span at the end of the first half, Morabito converted a rare four-point play and Micayla Drysdale (11 points) added a three-pointer herself to keep the game close.
Cornell led, 30-28, at the break, but for the first time this season Canisius won after trailing at halftime.
In the second half, Canisius' defense stifled Cornell. During one 10-minute stretch, the Big Red scored only three field goals.
Also chipping in for the Griffs were freshman Jamie Ruttle (12 points, five rebounds) and sophomore Melissa Gardner (11 points, six rebounds and three blocks).
Next up, the Griffs play at Bowling Green on Tuesday before a three-game home stand.
Bona women surging
The St. Bonaventure women's basketball team takes its winning streak to San Antonio for UTSA Holiday Classic over the next two days.
Tonight at 5, the Bonnies (7-3) face Middle Tennessee State. Tuesday, they'll play against Texas-San Antonio.
The women's team has found its groove of late with four straight wins. The Bonnies are winning with defense as six of their 10 opponents this season have scored 50 or fewer points. Allowing only 52.3 points per game, the Bonnies' defense ranks 21st nationally. Most recently, St. Bonaventure topped UB, 56-47, on Dec. 21 -- its 12th straight win over a Big 4 opponent.
Maybe St. Bonaventure has found the recipe to success. As Jim Crowley's team continues to shut down opponents, it's also closing games at the free-throw line. As a team, St. Bonaventure is shooting 80.4 percent at the line, good for fourth-best in the country.