Courtesy of PurpleEagles.com
NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. – The Niagara Purple Eagles were edged in their 2014-15 home opener by the Hartford Hawks, 65-62,on Saturday night.
Karonn Davis led the game with career highs in scoring and in assists with 17 points and four assists. Emile Blackman was second in scoring 15 points and grabbed five rebounds. Wesley Myers added 10 points, and Rayon Harris scored nine points and had a game-high seven rebounds.
“I do think we played hard, but we do need to play better,” head coach Chris Casey said. “We need to handle the ball better, make a few more free throws and make better decisions. We competed, played hard and stayed together.”
Niagara (1-2) trailed as much as eight points in the first half before ending the half on a run. Davis’ 3-pointer with 4:41 on the clock sparked an 11-0 run to end the half as the Purple Eagles led 30-25 at the break.
A layup by Harris 1:22 into the second half gave NU its largest lead in the game at 32-27. However, the Hawks (3-1) went on a 16-2 run in a four-minute span to take a 49-39 lead with 10:45 remaining.
The Purple Eagles would cut the lead to two points three times in the final three minutes. A 3-pointer by Wesley Myers cut the lead to 61-59 with 50 seconds remaining. On Hartford’s next possession, a tip-in by Yolonzo Moore put the Hawks up four with 23 seconds left.
Both teams split a pair of free throws to make the score 64-60 with 18 seconds left. On its next possession, Niagara would miss a 3-pointer and a contested jumper before Harris would make two free throws to cut the lead to 64-62 with four seconds on the clock. Hartford’s Moore would make 1 of 2 free throws and NU failed to get off a shot as time expired.
“They are a very good team and there is a reason why they have a good chance to win their league,” Casey said. “They are a veteran team and they showed it in close points in the game, and we will get to that.”
Niagara is back on the court on Saturday, Nov. 29 at 2 p.m. when the Purple Eagles face St. Bonaventure in the Big 4 Classic at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. For ticket information, contact the Niagara Ticket Office at 716-286-8499.