Niagara Falls, N.Y.— The Niagara University men’s basketball team suffered a defeat in their last game of the regular season at home against Fairfield University 62-58. Sunday’s matinee game would recognize the seniors as it was their last game on the Gallagher court.
The Purple Eagles starting lineup featured the two seniors, Ali Tew and Maurice Taylor Jr.
“I’ve been thankful for the opportunity to play a Division I sport, to play in front of a crowd like this, to play for my coaches, teammates and my family,” said Taylor.
Niagara head coach Chris Casey discussed the honor it was to have the two seniors be a part of the team.
“I will sincerely miss Ali and Maurice,” said Casey. “They’ve always come ready to practice and play, and for that I am grateful.”
As the game began, Matt Scott came out with his usual energetic flare as he would score a quick seven points just five minutes into the game. Tew would also get involved early putting up a three points and two rebounds. The Purple Eagles would jump to a 19-13 lead halfway through the first quarter.
As the atmosphere of the Gallagher Center subsided, Niagara would lose their momentum shooting at only 30 percent in the first half.
Fairfield took the lead as Niagara became sloppy with the ball on offense. Curtis Cobb and Jerry Johnson would combine for 18 points as the Stags led the Purple Eagles 32-24 by the end of the first half.
The Purple Eagles would fight back in the second half as Marvin Prochet would lead the team with a strong presence offensively setting a new career high with 22 points. Prochet scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half as his efforts would lead to a surge by the Purple Eagles, tying the game at 46 with 6:45 left.
The Purple Eagles would again lose momentum offensively as Fairfield took advantage. Jonathan Kasibabu was force for the Stags scoring 10 of his 16 points in the second half as well as totaling nine rebounds as well.
“We needed to make more shots, free-throws and we needed to finish some plays around the rim,” said Casey. “But I thought overall our guys did a really good job of playing hard and defending.”
Despite Niagara’s defensive tenacity, their efforts would fall short as Fairfield would hit key shots down the stretch of the second half, outscoring Niagara for a final of 62-58.
The Purple Eagles will now leave the regular season behind as their focus shifts towards the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships which will take place in Albany, N.Y. on March 2-6.
In spite of Niagara’s recent struggles, Coach Casey and the Eagles will head to Albany determined.
“We’re packing for four games and going down there to try and win a tournament” said Casey. “We’re 5-5 against top teams in the league. We know we can beat teams.”
The Purple Eagles finish the regular season at 9-22 overall and 6-14 in their conference.