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Big 4 Basketball: Niagara pulls out a big road win

Trailing by 10 points with their second-leading scorer out of the game with an apparent ankle injury, Friday night looked bleak for the Niagara men’s basketball team.

But the Purple Eagles came back and held off Iona for an 85-84 win in New Rochelle to improve to 18-10 overall, 11-4 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Niagara’s Matt Scott, who entered the game averaging 19.9 points and 7.6 rebounds, went down in the first half and left the court at halftime on crutches with his right ankle in tape. He had 10 points in the first half, scoring eight of those in the opening 2:59 of the game.

But without Scott, Niagara had issues and Iona took a 47-37 halftime lead.

The Purple Eagles chipped back into the game. A layup off an offensive rebound from Greg Kuakumensah tied the game, 66-66, with 9:24 to play. The back-and-forth play continued until Marvin Prochet hit two free throws with 10 seocnds left for an 84-81 lead. The teams traded single free throws and Jan Svandrlik hit a late layup for Iona to bring the Gales within one, but time ran out.

James Towns led Niagara with 20 points while Kahil Dukes scored 17.

Meanwile in Westlong Branch, N.J., the Canisius men extended their winning streak to six games and won for the first time in five tries on the road against Monmouth. The Golden Griffins came away with a 78-60 win over Monmouth in the OceanFirst Bank Center in Westlong Branch, N.J.

The Griffs went on an 8-0 run in a 45-second span near the end of the first half to build a 37-27 halftime lead then used an 11-4 run to start the second half to solidify their lead. Isaiah Reese led the Griffs with 26 points as Canisius improved to 19-9 overall, 13-2 in the league.

On the women’s side, both Canisius and Niagara won their home games. The Golden Griffins got 23 points each from Margret Halfdanardottir and Sara Hinriksdottir to improve to 9-17 overall, 7-8 in the MAAC with a 62-50 win over Monmouth. Niagara got 26 points from Victoria Rampado in a 69-61 win over Rider to improve to 10-16 overall, 7-8 in the MAAC.

UB women host Akron

The University at Buffalo women's team is looking for its fifth straight win when they host Akron at 1 p.m. in Alumni Arena. The Bulls are 20-4 overall and 11-2 in Mid-American Conference play. UB is 14th in the latest RPI rankings. Akron is 8-16 overall and 2-11 in conference play.

The game is the annual Play 4 Kay game at UB.

Battle by the Lake

Buffalo State men’s and women’s basketball team finish their regular season at Fredonia Saturday with major SUNYAC playoff implications on the women’s side.

The Buffalo State and Fredonia women are tied for the sixth and final playoff position. It’s not a cut and dry win-and-get-in scenario as Plattsburgh sits one game back of the teams with two games remaining. Should Plattsburgh win both, tie-breakers would determine the team to advance.

The Bengals are 11-13 overall and 7-10 in league play and are on a three-game winning streak, including a pair of road wins last weekend at Oswego and Cortland to stay alive in the postseason race. Buffalo State is looking to avenge a 78-67 loss to Fredonia at the Sports Arena on Jan. 27, in a game that saw the Blue Devils use a late 23-0 run to erase a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit.

Buffalo State’s men’s team will enter the season finale against the Blue Devils looking to close the season on a high note while capturing a much needed “Battle by the Lake” point. The Bengals are 8-15 overall and 4-13 in SUNYAC play and are seeking revenge for an 81-72 home loss to Fredonia on Jan. 27.

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