The Niagara men’s basketball team opened its MAAC home schedule with a resounding 94-72 win over the Marist Red Foxes on Friday.
The Purple Eagles (6-7, 2-1 MAAC), who had their first 20-plus point win since Dec. 2009, started their 2013 portion of the schedule with season-highs in points (92) and field goal percentage (52.2) as they recorded their most points in a regular season non-overtime game since beating Siena 100-85 on Feb. 27, 2009.
“We were a little rusty earlier but once we started clicking we did a good job,” Joe Mihalich said. “It is a real credit to these guys. It might be ‘coach talk’ but the way you practice is the way you played. These guys really worked hard…extra lifting, extra shooting and it paid off because these guys were invested and were committed.”
Four Purple Eagles netted double figures in scoring, led by a season-high 22 points from Ameen Tanksley. The sophomore from Philadelphia tied a career-high with 12 rebounds to notch his third double-double of the season. Tanksley’s childhood friend Juan’ya Green finished with 21 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals. Antoine Mason continued his hot start to the season with 17 points to extend his season-long streak of double-digit points, and Malcolm Lemmons tied a season-high with 11 points.
The opening two and a half minutes were scoreless until Mason scored the game’s first points with a dunk. What en sued next was a 16-2 run by Niagara which included holding Marist (4-10, 1-2 MAAC) without a point for 7:11 minutes (NU led 13-0). Tanksley was well on his way to a double-double in the first half with 14 points and seven rebounds; Green and Mason had 12 and 11 points, respectively. The Purple Eagles went into the half with a commanding 51-30 lead for their most points in a half this season.
NU’s lead ballooned to 30 points late in the second half as they wrapped up their sixth straight home against Marist.
“It was a league win and you have to get them,” Mihalich stated.
The Purple Eagles improved to 5-1 at the Gallagher Center this season, which is their best start through six games since the 2007-08 season (5-1).
Niagara continues its home MAAC opening weekend against Fairfield (10-5, 2-1 MAAC) on Saturday at 3 p.m.