The Niagara men’s basketball team went down to the wire for the third consecutive game Saturday, and the Purple Eagles pulled out their third win in a row by edging Cornell, 89-86, in Ithaca.
With 11 seconds left and an 87-86 lead, Marvin Prochet found Matt Scott for a layup on an inbounds play to push Niagara’s lead to three. A deep three-pointer by Cornell’s Matt Morgan rimmed out at the buzzer to push NU’s record to 7-6, its best start through 13 games and best nonconference record since it started the 2009-10 season 8-5.
Four players scored in double figures for the Purple Eagles, who were led by 28 points from Kahlil Dukes. Scott (23 points, 11 rebounds) and Prochet (17 points, 12 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles, while James Towns added 10 points.
Cornell (5-5) had the game’s two highest scorers. Morgan had 33 points and Stone Gettings 30.
Both teams had their share of runs each half.
Big Red had 9-0 and 10-0 runs in the first half, while the Purple Eagles had runs of 7-0, 9-0 and 13-0. Niagara closed out the final 6:24 of the first half on a 20-4 run to take a 49-38 lead at the break.
Buckets from Dukes and Scott to open the second half gave NU its largest lead of the game, 53-38, 1:21 in.
Cornell used a 10-0 run to cut Niagara’s lead to 70-68 with 10:29 left before the Purple Eagles responded with nine straight.
A 14-4 Big Red run cut Niagara’s lead to 83-82 with 2:56 to go, but a Greg King layup moved the Purple Eagles lead back to three.
The Purple Eagles open Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play against two-time defending champion Iona (6-6) on Friday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Gallagher Center.