Although outrebounded and giving up points in the paint, Niagara rode a second-half 3-point shooting barrage to a 75-66 victory over Fairfield Friday night at the Gallagher Center in Lewiston.
The victory ended a four-game losing streak for the Purple Eagles (3-9) and gave coach Greg Paulus a victory in his first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game as Niagara coach.
Niagara sank eight of its nine 3-point baskets in the second half as it went from a 38-34 lead to a 69-55 advantage with 5:06 left in the game.
Senior James Towns led the Purple Eagles with 18 points. Raheem Solomon had 15 points, Greg Kuakamensah had 14 points and Marcus Hammond 13. Solomon, Hammond and freshman Nick McDonald each contributed a pair of threes in the Niagara run.
Overall, Niagara made 9 of 20 3-pointers and 28 of 52 overall. Fairfield, on the other hand, struggled from beyond the arc.
Landon Taliaferro, who shot a Stags record 10 3-points in a win over Texas A&M last month, missed his first 11 shots and first seven 3-point tries and finished 1 for 13, making just one three. Fairfield was 4 for 14 in 3-point attempts.
The Stags had a 39-24 rebounding advantage and scored on many dunks and layups with 6-foot-10 Chris Maidoh and 6-8 Vincent Eze and Wasset Methnani. Eze and Methnani had 16 points each, and made 14 of 25 shots. The rest of the Stags were 13 for 35 (37.1 percent).
Both the University at Buffalo men’s and women’s teams will open conference play as will the St. Bonaventure women in Western New York Big 4 basketball on Saturday. There are five games on the schedule, all with 2 p.m. starts.
UB (9-4) will begin defense of its Mid-American Conference title against Northern Illinois (7-6) at Alumni Arena. NIU has not won here since 2003 but has defeated the Bulls at home in Dekalb, Ill. in each of the last two seasons. The Huskies have had a long layoff since their last action on Dec. 23. The UB men are coming off an 84-79 home victory over St. Bonaventure on Monday night.
Freshman scoring star Dyaisha Fair and UB (9-2) will face Miami (7-5) at Millet Hall in Oxford, Ohio on Saturday in their MAC opener. Fair is averaging 23.6 points in her first college season. Miami is led by Lauren Dickerson (15 ppg).
The St. Bonaventure women (3-10) will play their Atlantic 10 opener against Fordham (8-5) in the Bronx. The host Rams have won their last five against the Bonnies.
Niagara’s women (2-8, 0-1) Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will play at Manhattan (4-7, 1-1) at the Draddy Gym in Riverdale. Jai Moore scored 27 points for Niagara in a loss at Rider in its MAAC opener. Moore is averaging 15.8 points. Emily LaPointe (11.6) is the scoring leader for Manhattan which got its first conference win on Thursday against Canisius, 68-50.
The Griffs (1-9) will play at Monmouth today. D’Jhai Patterson-Ricks and Tiana Pugh each had 11 points in the loss to the Jaspers.