LEWISTON - Niagara University played good defense and benefitted from a cold-shooting opponent in winning its first game of the college basketball season.
Niagara held Brown University to just 30.7 shooting from the floor and 28 percent shooting from three-point range in the 75-66 victory at the Gallagher Center.
Brown is picked to finish in the lower half of the Ivy League this season, but any strong defensive showing is a welcome sight for Niagara. The Purple Eagles ranked last in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in defensive field-goal percentage last season.
Brown made just 8 of 29 shots from three-point range.
“I thought we did a good job of contesting most threes,” said Niagara coach Chris Casey. “We got out and got a hand up on most threes. Our goal every game was 20-plus deflections, and I know we were past that midway through the second half. So we had a lot of activity with our feet and our hands.”
Records: Niagara is 1-2, Brown is 1-2.
Davis disciplined: Niagara University sophomore point guard Karonn Davis began a four-game suspension Wednesday due to a violation of team rules, Casey said. The suspension includes Niagara’s two tournament games in Connecticut next week and a home game against Youngstown State on Nov. 28. He is scheduled to return for Niagara's Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener at home against Quinnipiac on Dec. 4. Davis averaged 30.5 minutes a game last season and over the first two games of this season.
Taking his spot in the starting lineup was junior Cam Fowler, who averaged just 10 minutes a game last year.
“I thought he did an outstanding job,” Casey said of Fowler. “He was poised he had a great demeanor. He had seven assists and two turnovers. That’s a pretty good game, and he played 36 minutes.”
Big man hot: Justin Satchell, a 6-foot-8 junior college transfer from Florida, showed a good three-point shooting touch from Niagara. He hit three three-pointers and finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
Big man cold: Brown’s best player, 6-9 center Cedric Kuakumensah, had a rough shooting night. He hit just 4 of 14 shots from the field, with all of the shots coming within 5 feet of the basket. Kuakumensah ranks second on the Ivy League’s all-time blocks list. He finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Eagle balance: Eight Niagara players saw at least 10 minutes. Matt Scott scored a game-high 23 points and had 10 rebounds (see game story). Junior guard Emile Blackman added 11 points but was limited to 25 minutes due to foul trouble.
Major brother: Brown junior guard Steven Speith is the younger brother of PGA Tour star Jordan Speith, the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world. Steven Speith, from Dallas, averaged 9.9 points and 4.7 rebounds a game last season. He finished with 15 points.
Strategy: Niagara took the ball hard to the basket on offense and finished 19 of 30 from the free-throw line. Brown settled for three-pointers and was 12 of 16 from the line.
Forecasts: Niagara is picked to finish last in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Brown is picked for fifth in the eight-team Ivy League. Niagara was 8-22 last season. Brown was 13-18.
Big picture: “I liked our defense,” Casey said. “We held their field-goal percentage low and their three-point shooting percentage low. I like the fact we responded on a couple of occasions when they made runs at us with stops and baskets. I feel like this was a good first step.”
In the house: Attendance was 1,335.
Next up: Niagara plays Vermont in the first round of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Connecticut on Nov. 21. The next night they play the winner of the game between UB and North Carolina A&T.