Courtesy of PurpleEagles.com
ALBANY, N.Y. – The Niagara Purple Eagles opened 2016 with a 75-63 setback to the Siena Saints on Saturday night in their MAAC road opener.
“Both teams competed very hard and it was a good college basketball game with the score going back-and-forth a lot,” head coach Chris Casey said. “We lost the game by not rebounding the basketball. They did a great job getting to the glass in the second half and they beat us off the glass. We would stop them and they would come up with offensive rebounds. We have to improve in that area.”
The Purple Eagles (3-11, 1-2 MAAC) have outrebounded their opponents in seven games this season and had a positive rebounding margin entering the game. However, the Purple Eagles were outrebounded 37-21 for their largest rebounding discrepancy of the season.
The 95th all-time meeting between the programs had 11 lead changes and the Purple Eagles led at halftime. However, a Siena (9-5, 2-1 MAAC) run in the second half lifted the Saints to their sixth straight win in the series.
Ten of the 11 lead changes occurred in the first half. The Purple Eagles connected on four of their first five shots to take an 11-8 lead after 2:21 of action. NU, then, built a 21-11 lead with a 10-0 run, but the Saints answered with a 13-0 run to take a 24-21 lead with 8:55 left in the half. After five lead changes over the next six minutes, the Purple Eagles went into halftime leading 34-30 courtesy of four straight points by Emile Blackman.
The Saints opened the second half on an 8-2 spurt to regain the lead, though NU tied the game twice in the half with the latter coming on a Marvin Prochet 3-pointer at 11:27 to tie the game at 47-47.
The turning point of the game came next as Siena outscored NU, 13-4, over the next seven minutes to seize control of the game. A Cameron Fowler 3-pointer cut the lead to 62-56 with 2:43 remaining, but Siena pushed the lead back into double-digit in its next two possessions. A 3-pointer by Matt Scott brought the score to 67-60 with 1:33 remaining, but the Saints finished the game making eight of their final nine free throws.
“There were a lot of areas where we played well,” Casey said. “I thought our defense was pretty good, we got to the foul line when we need to, and handled the ball fairly well.”
Blackman led the Purple Eagles in scoring 19 points, Prochet finished with 16 points and a team-high five rebounds, and Scott added 14 points, four rebounds and a team-high three assists.
The Purple Eagles wrap up their four-game road trip on Monday against the Iona Gaels at 7 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN3 and on the Niagara Sports Network via AM 1400 WWWS and PurpleEagles.com/Watch.