The Niagara men’s basketball team began its MAAC slate with an 83-72 setback against the defending regular season champion Iona Gaels on Wednesday.
Antoine Mason led Niagara (2-4, 0-1 MAAC) with 24 points for his second 20-point game of the season. Mason’s 20 second-half points ignited a surge as the Purple Eagles crept back into the game after trailing 43-31 at halftime. A pair of free throws by Mason capped a 14-3 run to bring NU to 56-52 with 11:39 remaining. However, Iona (3-2, 1-0 MAAC) answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to halt NU’s best run in the game.The four-point deficit was the closet the Purple Eagles would get for the rest of the game.
“Iona came out tonight and knocked us on our heels and we dug ourselves a hole,” head coach Joe Mihalich said. “However, I’m proud of the way we comeback in the second half. In the end, Iona showed a little more toughness and their maturity was the difference.”
Three other Purple Eagles joined Mason in double-digit scoring. Marvin Jordan scored 14 points and led the team with three 3-pointers and also dished out three assists. Ameen Tanksley scored 13 points and had 11 rebounds to become the first Purple Eagle to register a double-double this season; Tanksley has four double-doubles in his career. Juan’ya Green scored 12 points and finished with five assists. Freshman Tahjere McCall led the game with a career-high seven assists.
Niagara will play its third game of its five-game road trip on Sunday when the Purple Eagles take on Central Michigan at 2 p.m.