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Quick Hits: Niagara 105, Canisius 89

Saturday night, sang Elton John, is all right for fighting. It's also all right for shooting three-pointers and running one wicked transition game.

That's what the Niagara men's basketball team did Saturday night in a 105-89 win over Canisius in the Koessler Athletic Center.

The Purple Eagles built a 19-point halftime lead and didn't cool off much in the second half. They shot 58 percent from three-point range (15 of 26) and their relentless offensive pressure, particularly their speed in transition, was impressive.

Niagara led by as many as 22 as Marvin Prochet opened the second half with a three-pointer for a 47-25 lead. But Canisius clawed its way back into the game, thanks to a 6-0 run with a pair of buckets from Jermaine Crumpton.

A layup from Jibreel Faulkner with 8:36 left brought the Griffs within 10, 69-59, but Niagara came up with the baskets they needed and hit their free throws to secure the win.

First time: Saturday was the first time Niagara ever scored 100 points in the Koessler Athletic Center.

The series: It was the third straight win for Niagara over the Griffs, who entered the game in first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The records: Niagara is now 7-3 in the MAAC and 14-9 overall while Canisius fell to 7-2 in conference play and 13-9 overall.

Raining threes: Niagara used a 15-4 run to take a 10-point lead midway through the first half. Trailing, 15-14, Niagara hit three straight three-pointers — one from Matt Scott and two from Kahlil Dukes. Canisius went on a three-minute scoring drought and Niagara kept scoring, taking a 29-19 lead with 8:23 left in the first half.

About those first-half threes: Niagara shot better from behind the arc (53 percent) than it did overall (49 percent). The Purple Eagles went 8 for 15 from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes.

The transition game: That's what blew the first half open for the Purple Eagles, who had a 44-25 halftime lead. Niagara took six Canisius turnovers and turned them into 17 points. The Purple Eagles were actually sloppier with the ball in the first half with 10 turnovers, the Griffs managed just four points off turnovers.

Gone cold: Canisius did not hit a field goal over the last 9:30 of the first half, going 0 for 15 from the field before halftime.

Double technicals: Things got heated right off the bat as just 4:05 into the game double technical fouls were issued to Niagara's Marvin Prochet and Canisius' Scott Hitchon as they were animated in a post-play conversation.

First career start: Freshman forward Hitchon made his first career start for Canisius as senior center Selvedin Planincic was out with an illness.

Sold out: It was the second sold-out crowd at the Koessler Athletic Center this season with 2,196 fans. The KAC also sold out for the Canisius-St. Bonaventure game in December. Saturday marked the eighth time in the last nine meetings between Canisius and Niagara in the Koessler Center that the game sold out.

The rematch: Canisius and Niagara meet again on Wednesday, Feb. 21 in the Gallagher Center. It will be the second-last game of the regular season for both teams.

Up next: Canisius travels on Friday to play at Marist and Sunday at Saint Peter's. They return to Koessler on Feb. 8 to host Siena at 7 p.m.

Niagara also travels next weekend, playing at Saint Peter's on Friday and at Monmouth on Sunday. The Purple Eagles return to the Gallagher Center on Feb. 8 to host Quinnipiac at 7 p.m.

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