Niagara 75, Hartford 59
How Niagara Won: The Purple Eagles managed to dictate an up-tempo game midway through the first half thanks to their work on the defensive end. They scored 14 straight en route to a 37-20 halftime lead and never were seriously threatened.
Player of the Game: Antoine Mason puts up the points so consistently it's easy to overlook him. Let's not. He had a game-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting and added seven boards, three assists and three steals. His 15-footer with about three minutes left righted the ship after Hartford rallied to within 10.
Best Supporting Role: Ameen Tanksley matched his season high with 16 points and had a season-best 12 rebounds.
Off the Bench: Malcolm Lemmons was a burst of energy for Niagara. He scored 11 points and had five rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes. He was as responsible as anybody for helping Niagara out of its early slumber.
What It Means: Victory No. 250 for Niagara coach Joe Mihalich. It was the first time all season Niagara (4-6) had all its players available.
Stat Check: Niagara went 14 of 23 from the field in the second half, which helped it overcome 11 turnovers.
Stat Check II: For the game Niagara shot 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from behind the arc and 70 percent from the free throw line. I'll bet it's been a long time since that's happened.
Did You Know: Hartford sophomore Nate Sikma is the son of nine-time NBA All-Star Jack Sikma. He had three points and three rebounds in 30 minutes but turned it over six times.
They Said It: "I don't know how many people know this, but he (Lemmons) missed about three weeks of the preseason. It made a difference for him. . . . So I think that screwed him up a little bit and he's getting it back." -- Mihalich.
"We actually have everybody on the court in practice so it's fun. It's going to be a fun year." -- Mason on Niagara getting back to full health.
"We made some substitutions and some young kids made some rushed plays. To the credit of Niagara, they went after those young kids. Then the flows of the game becomes Niagara's." -- Hartford coach John Gallagher.
"I say it all the time, I'm living the dream. I'm just lucky to be here, lucky to coach guys like these two (Mason and Tanksley) and the rest of the guys on the team. I'm lucky. I'm a lucky guy. I know it too." -- Mihalich on win No. 250.
In the House: There were 1,556 at Taps on a night when the 16th-ranked hockey team was playing across the way at Dwyer Arena.
Next Up: Niagara's home to Vermont at 2 Sunday afternoon. The Catamounts are 6-3 and should contend in America East.
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedCollege basketball | Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference | Niagara