LEWISTON -- The dagger in Siena's 82-70 victory over Niagara Tuesday night came with 2:04 remaining, the shot clock nearing zero and the Saints' lead down to a precarious seven points.
Nico Clareth took aim from the left wing. Elevated. Released.
Swish. Just like that the lead was back to 10 points and Siena's first road sweep of WNY team's since 2007-08 was assured.
"He took a normal shot," said Siena coach Jimmy Patsos. "In other words I didn't think he took a crazy shot. See what I'm saying? Make sense?
"In other words, three second, two, one, people go like this," Patsos said, mimicking a heave. "I thought he just kind of rhythmed it."
Clareth, a 6-foot-5 freshman averaging 11.4 points, finished with 24. He was 9 of 17 from the field, including 4 of 9 from behind the arc.
Big night: Guards Matt Scott and Emile Blackman were the Niagara offense. Scott scored 31, going 8 of 19 from the field and perfect in 13 shots from the line. Blackman netted 22 on 7 of 10 from the field and 8 of 10 from the line. The two accounted for all 11 points in an 11-0 Niagara run that followed a 19-0 Siena burst early in the first half.
Same old: The Saints have won seven straight in the series.
Records: -- Niagara is 5-16 overall, 3-7 in the conference and has lost four straight. Siena is 14-7, 7-3 and is on a three-game upswing.
The big stall: Niagara jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead. Then Scott produced a steal. And forward Marvin Prochet inexplicably launched a 22-foot brick. And just like that the half turned in a blink. Siena unleashed a 19-0 run fueled by four Purple Eagle turnovers and the hot hands of guard Nico Clareth and Ryan Oliver. Niagara, which scored the game's first field goal at 18:42, didn't score another until Scott drove the lane with 9:56 left.
The big recovery: Down 29-10, Niagara turned the game over to its two top talents, Scott and Blackman. They accounted for all the scoring in an 11-0 Niagara burst that drew the Purple Eagles back within eight. Prochet then attained redemption with a couple late jumpers, the second one bringing Niagara to 38-32 at the half. Blackman led all scores with 13 at the half. Scott had 10.
Long and short: Siena's Lavon Long had a game for the history books at Canisius Sunday when he made all seven of his field goal attempts and went 11 for 11 at the line. Long didn't put up a shot in the first half of this one because three quick fouls limited him to three minutes of action.
Formidable: A strong low-post presence might not be as coveted as it once was in the guard-oriented college game - but when it exists it can be devastating. Siena came into Tuesday night leading the MAAC in field goal shooting percentage, defensive rebounding, rebounding margin and blocked shots. The Saints' 7.4 advantage in rebounding margin tops the conference and ranks 24th in the nation. Yet Niagara ended up winning the backboards, 34-31, and produced 16 second-chance points to Siena's nine.
More to come: This was the eighth straight game Siena has played without junior guard Marquis Wright, who averages 17.3 points. He's out with a stress fracture and hope is he'll be back by the middle of next month.
Almost triples: When Siena put up 99 points in Sunday's win at Canisius it marked its most points in a game since scoring 99 against Brown in 2009 and its most points in a true road game since a 105-103 loss to Penn State in March of 2000.
Next up: Niagara hits the road for four of its next six, beginning with Marist on Thursday and Quinnipiac on Saturday. Siena goes the other route. The Saints are home for four of their next five, beginning with Marist on Saturday and a Monday showdown with Monmouth. Siena is 8-0 at the Times Union Center, home of the MAAC Tournament from 2015-17.