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Niagara women win first game of season

One team had to earn its first victory of the season on Friday when Niagara hosted Cleveland State at the Gallagher Center. Deciding which team should do so took even longer than expected.

However, the Purple Eagles were the ones who came away with a 73-72 win in overtime. Niagara moved to 1-3, while the Vikings fell to 0-4.

Taylor McKay’s two free throws with 11 seconds left in the extra period gave Niagara a 73-69 lead, which proved insurmountable. Adesuwa Aideyman hit a three-pointer at the buzzer for Cleveland State, but that wasn’t enough.

Sam Lapszynski moved into the starting lineup for the first time for Niagara, and she responded with an outstanding outing. Lapszynski scored 24 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks to pick up her first career double-double.

“Sam was a big part of the game plan,” said Niagara head coach Jada Pierce, who earned her first win with the Purple Eagles. “We knew Victoria” Rampado “would be out and we asked Sam to really step up and she did. I mean, she really went to the challenge; she was ready for it and you know what – Sam can do that every night if that’s what she wants to do.”

This was a relatively close game for almost all of the contest. Niagara had the lead for much of the first half, but had to battle back from a four-point deficit with less than five minutes to play in regulation. Lapszynski scored on a layup with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 61-61, and that’s where it stayed entering overtime.

Niagara next heads to Detroit to play the Titans on Sunday afternoon.

Saturday’s games

Canisius at Buffalo (men), 2 p.m.: The two Big Four squads meet in Alumni Arena for the first time since 2011. UB (3-2) is coming off two wins on neutral courts in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Connecticut. Canisius (2-2) is coming off a loss to St. Bonaventure on Tuesday. The Bulls and Golden Griffins have divided their last six matchups.

Buffalo at Central Florida (women), 2:30 p.m.: UB takes an undefeated record (4-0) to Florida to play in a tournament this weekend. The Bulls play host Central Florida on Saturday and Clemson on Sunday. Buffalo still leads the nation in scoring defense.

Youngstown State at Niagara (men), 3 p.m.: The Purple Eagles (2-4) return home after going 1-2 in their last three games on the road. Niagara won its only home game on the schedule so far, but Saturday’s game is the first of three straight at home. Senior Bobby Hain leads the Penguins (2-4) in both scoring and rebounding.

Hofstra at St. Bonaventure (men), 4 p.m.: The Bonnies (3-2) have received great play from guard Marcus Posley lately, as he has averaged 30.5 points in his last two games, including 35 in a win over Canisius. He may need to have a good game against a Hofstra team that recently picked up a huge win over Florida State. Former Niagara coach Joe Mihalich guides the Pride.