The Niagara Purple Eagles defeated the Hartford Hawks, 75-59, on Wednesday to give head coach Joe Mihalich his 250th career win.
“I’m living the dream, I’m just lucky to be here,” Mihalich said on his milestone victory.
Niagara (4-6), which played its first home game after a five-game road trip, had a big first half from Antoine Mason and Ameen Tanksley; each scored in double figures and Tanksley was two rebounds shy of a double-double. NU’s 14-0 run, which broke open the game, was started by a Mason layup to put NU up 14-13 and Tanksley scored a layup at 4:21 to increase NU’s lead to 26-13 before Hartford (5-5)scored to halt its four-minute scoreless drought.
Malcolm Lemmons connected on a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Purple Eagles up 37-20 at halftime.
NU built the largest lead in the game to 24 points with a Marvin Jordan 3-pointer at 10:51 left in the second half. The Hawks cut the lead to 67-57 with 3:42 on the clock before Mason connected on a mid-range jumper to fend off the run.
“We did what we had to do,” Mihalich stated. “I thought in the first half, our energy defensively going into the game, we knew we had to make that team uncomfortable. I think they were just a little out of rhythm and out of sync. I thought our defense did that too them.”
Tanksley recorded his fifth career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Mason netted a game-high 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Lemmons finished with a season-high 11 points.
“These two guys here (Mason and Tanksley) were just terrific,” Mihalich said. “Ameen getting a double-double. Mason making big shots; that shot in the second half when we really needed a bucket, he made a tough shot.”
Niagara steps back onto the Gallagher Center court on Sunday when the Purple Eagles host Vermont at 2 p.m.