Niagara 61, Central Michigan 55
How Niagara Won: The offense continues to improve. Purple Eagles shot 52.6 percent in second half and 44.7 percent for the game, which it enabled it to overcome 20 turnovers and a 35-28 rebounding disadvantage.
Turning Point: Anthony Nelson's steal and subsequent assist on Kavon Moore's dunk gave Niagara a four-point lead with 1:13 to play. But let's not overlook the desperation three Nelson had to take with 21 seconds left, and Moore's successful pursuit of the long rebound.
Player of the Game: Nelson got the offense flowing in the final 15 minutes after Niagara plodded through the first half. He totaled 13 points, seven assists and three steals and has tied Alvin Cruz's school record for career assists.
Stat of the Game: Central Michigan pulled down 19 offensive rebounds, which explains why, eight minutes into the second half, the Chips had taken 19 shots to Niagara's five.
Stat of the Game II: Niagara's first field goal came 3:35 into the game. It's first second-half field goal came 5:49 after intermission.
They Said It: Niagara coach Joe Mihalich on how his team struggled after Wednesday's dramatic victory over rival Canisius: "This was a trap game for us after the big win. You're flat. You think you can just show up a little bit. Yada-yada-yada. And you still find a way to win. We're far from there yet but we're becoming a good team."
Overrated?: Central Michigan freshman Trey Ziegler was named to the Mid-American Conference pre-season all-conference team. No way he makes the end-of-season squad. In fact, it would be a major injustice if he tops UB's Javon McCrea as MAC freshman of the year. Ziegler's had some decent outings, but he was decidedly average (at best) in games at UB and Niagara and looked utterly confused Saturday. He shot 2 of 11 for six points to go with five turnovers. Which leads us to:
They Said It II: "He's a talented kid but he still is a freshman," Mihalich said of Ziegler. "When a team's going to change a lot of defenses . . . it's going to force him to make adjustments which he's not used to making."
In The House: Only 1,238 showed up for a rather lackluster BracketBuster matchup. The students were in short supply as most looked ahead to Saturday night's home hockey game against Canisius.
Next Up: Niagara finishes up the regular season with home games against Loyola (Friday) and Manhattan (Sunday).
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedCollege basketball | Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference | Mid-American Conference | Mid-Majors | Niagara