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Niagara women earn first win at home

LEWISTON — The Niagara women’s basketball team earned its first home victory of the season, leading for the last 33 minutes of a 70-59, nonconference win against Oakland on Sunday in the Gallagher Center.

Notoriously slow starters, the Purple Eagles overcame some sluggish play in the first half but came out roaring in the second.

“Since we’ve started games so poorly, the first media [timeout after four minutes] of each half is really important,” coach Kendra Faustin said. “We talked about some specific things that we wanted to do in those first four minutes of each half and I thought we did those things.”

Niagara shot 51.9 percent and took a four-point lead into the half. Coming out of the break, Niagara extended its lead to 16 points, 55-39, after an 18-7 run in which six different Purple Eagles scored. Val McQuade scored five points during the run and finished with 12, tying a career-high. Lauren Gatto led NU with 17 points.

“Val is an excellent passer,” Faustin said. “She played guard in high school so she can really pass it and shoot it. She can stretch the defense. You can’t stay in on Lauren [Gatto] because Val can knock down that shot and when you come out Val can make the pass.”

The Purple Eagles’ next game is against visiting Kent State at 2 p.m. Saturday.