Iona has been the team to beat in recent seasons in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s basketball, but the Gaels never have an easy time when they visit Niagara’s Gallagher Center.
The Gaels had to put down a second-half Niagara rally to earn a 75-61 victory before a crowd of 1,154.
After building a 48-28 halftime lead, the Gaels seemed on their way to a runaway victory. Niagara (6-19, 4-10 MAAC), however, forced the visitors to regroup, cutting the deficit to nine points, 58-49 with 10:10 left. A 9-2 run over the span of 3:57 by the Gaels (14-9, 11-3 MAAC) ended any upset chances.
“We had too many turnovers and didn’t make open shots, and that was the bottom line the first half,” NU coach Chris Casey said.
Emile Blackman and Justin Satchell combined for 13 points in Niagara’s second half run. Satchell finished with his first double-double of the season with team highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Blackman had 12 points and Matt Scott 11.
Isaiah Williams led Iona with 21 points. Seyshonee Much had 15 and A.J. English 11. Jordan Washington’s 11 rebounds helped the Gaels to a 43-38 advantage on the boards.
Both the Canisius and Niagara women’s teams lost MAAC games on the road.
Senior Crystal Porter celebrated her birthday with a career high of 24 points, but Canisius (9-14, 4-10 MAAC) lost to Monmouth (10-13, 5-9 MAAC), 79-75, in West Long Branch, N.J.
Porter’s output included 17 points in the first half. She also had nine rebounds and five assists.
Canisius freshman Maria Welch also recorded a career high in points in her new starting role, scoring 20 points to go along with seven rebounds.
Niagara (6-17, 4-10 MAAC) lost to Quinnipiac (15-7, 10-3 MAAC), 70-52, at TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn.
“We got out to a really great start today,” said Niagara coach Jada Pierce. “Unfortuntely, the turnovers made the difference for us in this game.”
Niagara had 23 turnovers to nine for the Bobcats.
Jayla Nichols led the Purple Eagles with 12 points, tying her career high.