Niagara University shot 78.6 percent from the field and 88.9 percent from 3-point land in the game’s second half, and junior forward Matt Scott led four Niagara players in double-figures with 18 points, as the visiting Purple Eagles scored a 94-81 win over Canisius Friday night in a sold-out Koessler Athletic Center. The win moves Niagara to 9-17 overall and 6-9 in MAAC play, while the Golden Griffins slipped to 15-11 overall and 8-7 in league action.
For the game, Niagara shot 58.1 percent from the field and 57.9 percent from 3-point land. In the second half, the Purple Eagles blitzed the net, going 22-for-28 from the field and 8-for9 from behind the 3-point arc. Junior Kahlil Dukes had 16 points and seven assists in the victory, while redshirt-sophomore Kevin Larkin added 16 points, eight boards and three steals off the bench. Sophomore Marvin Prochet was good 13 points, six rebounds and three assists for Niagara, which swept the regular-season series from Canisius for the first time since 2011-12.
Canisius junior Jermaine Crumpton led all scorers with 25 points, highlighted by his five makes from 3-point range. Senior Kiefer Douse added 20 points and five assists, while junior Kassius Robertson and senior Phil Valenti were good for 14 and 13 points, respectively. Valenti led Canisius with six boards in the loss, as the Griffs ended the night shooting 41.1 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from 3-point land and 81.8 percent from the free-throw line.
Canisius led Niagara by six at 31-25 with 5:07 left in the first half after freshman Spencer Foley nailed a 3-pointer from the far corner off an assist from fellow freshman Malik Johnson. Niagara answered from there, using a 14-5 run over the final 4:49 of the first half to take a 39-36 lead into the locker room at intermission.
In the second half, the Purple Eagles quickly stretched their lead to nine at 50-41, and then the visiting squad pushed its hold to a dozen at 63-51 with 12:58 left to play thanks to a 3-point field goal by reserve guard Shane Gatling. Niagara led by as many as 17 points in the second half, but the Griffs were able to cut that margin down to 10 points at 82-72, capped by a dunk by Douse on a play set-up off a steal by freshman Isaiah Reese. That would be as close as the Blue and Gold would get, however, as Niagara answered with five-straight points in 52 seconds to push the score to 87-72 with 1:54 left on the clock.
Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Postgame Comments
“Niagara played a great game tonight. They came in here and really shot it well. They were the better team, bottom line.”
“We couldn’t get anything going defensively. We weren’t able to sustain good defensive possessions. If we got a stop, we raced down and ended up taking a bad shot ourselves. To their credit, Niagara played aggressively the entire game.”
Inside the Box Score
• Niagara held a 44-31 advantage on the glass, and the Purple Eagles were able to turn 10 offensive rebounds into 20-second chance points.
• The two teams combined to hit on 23 3-point field goals Friday night. Canisius hit 12, the 51st time since the start of the 2012-13 season where the Griffs had 10-or more 3-point makes in a game.
• The game featured four ties and 10 lead changes, all in the first half.
• This was the 181st all-time meeting between the two schools, with Niagara holding a 99-82 lead in the series.
• The Griffs were credited with 20 assists on 30 field goals in the loss, the 21st time this season where the team had 15-or more assists in a game.
• Canisius is 10-4 this year when scoring 80-plus points in a game, with two of those four losses coming to Niagara.
• Crumpton’s 25-point effort was his 10th game this season with 20-plus points in a game.
• Robertson’s three 3-point field goals gives him multiple 3-point makes in 23 games this season and 58 games in his career.
• Johnson’s six assists led the team, the 11th time this season he’s been the team’s leader in assists for a game.
• The Canisius-Niagara game in the Koessler Athletic Center sold out for the seventh time in the last eight years.
Canisius will close the regular-season series with Iona on Tuesday, Feb. 14, when the Gaels come into the Koessler Athletic Center. Game time is set for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and the audio call will be on Timeless WECK 1230-AM and 102.9-FM in Buffalo and the Golden Griffin Broadcast Network.