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Niagara improves, but still loses

It's been a season to forget for the Niagara women's basketball team. Blowout losses have blurred together as the season progresses. Still, Friday night figured to be a reasonable shot at a win as the Purple Eagles faced a two-win Saint Peter's team in Jersey City, N.J. In the two teams' previous meeting, Niagara lost by just four.

But despite a solid shooting night, Niagara's losing streak extended to 12 games in a 68-55 loss to Saint Peter's. NU falls to 1-17 overall and 0-7 in the MAAC.

After losing by 47 and 40 points the last two games, it was refreshing for NU to be competitive. The Purple Eagles shot 44 percent from the field, far and away better than they have in recent defeats. And with an 18-9 run, the Purple Eagles cut the Peahens' lead to five with 2:31 left. But Saint Peter's quickly answered with a 8-0 run to win.

NU freshman Shy Britton scored a career-high 16 points in the loss, as Chanel Johnson added nine. For Saint Peter's (3-15, 3-4), Teresa Manigrasso scored 20 points. Elsewhere, the Canisius women lost at Fairfield, 62-53. The Golden Griffins (6-12, 2-5 MAAC) fell behind by 10 at halftime and were never able to recover. Fairfield was efficient offensively, going 7 of 15 behind the arc. Four different players scored in double figures for the Stags. And while Canisius managed to stay within striking range throughout the second half, it could never close the gap.

"Offensively, we tried to do too much in one-on-one situations," Canisius coach Terry Zeh said. "On defense, we didn't play solid team defense. I don't think it's trying to be selfish, but we just didn't play well enough cohesively."

With 4:30 to go, an Ashley Durham layup cut Fairfield's lead to 51-43 but that's as close as the Griffs could get. In defeat, Jamie Ruttle scored 18 points and Durham had 12.

Four Big 4 games are slated for today. In men's action, the University at Buffalo plays at Ohio (3 p.m.) and St. Bonaventure travels to George Washington (2 p.m.). And on the women's side, UB is at Toledo (4:30 p.m.), while the Bonnies host Rhode Island (1 p.m.).

The Bulls men (10-6, 2-2 MAC) have rebounded nicely after a shaky start to conference play with a pair of wins over Akron and Kent State. Byron Mulkey (Niagara-Wheatfield) had a career night in his team's 79-54 win over Kent State with 27 points and five assists.

St. Bonaventure, meanwhile, is in need of a win after three straight Atlantic 10 losses. The Bona men (9-8, 1-3 A-10) played Xavier tough for one half, leading by five after 20 minutes, before losing, 79-65. Andrew Nicholson is averaging 20.5 points per game.

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