So just how much has the Niagara men’s basketball team grown since last year, when the nation’s third youngest team posted a 14-19 record?
It’s a little tough to say, especially since the Purple Eagles stepped up in class in facing Oregon State of the Pacific-12 Conference in their season opener. Niagara dropped a 102-83 decision to the Beavers at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore. on Friday night in a game that’s part of the 2K Classic, a tournament that benefits the Wounded Warriors Fund.
The tournament resumes for Niagara on its home floor next Friday against Bucknell. The Purple Eagles return to action at 7 p.m. Tuesday against visiting St. Francis (Pa.) at the Gallagher Center.
NU tried to use the three-ball to keep it close early in the first half and trailed only 26-20 with 10:08 left in the opening stanza but the Beavers closed with a 27-19 burst.
The Beavers shot 56.7 percent from the floor as each of its five starters scored in double figures, led by Roberto Nelson’s game-high 22 points. Eric Moreland, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, made all seven of his field goal attempts and also grabbed 13 rebounds.
“Obviously we were overmatched tonight,” NU coach Joe Mihalich said. “We played a Pac-12 team that won 21 games and returned 4 starters. I was somewhat please with our offense, but disappointed with our defense. We have a lot of work to do on both end of the floor but especially on the defensive end.”
Marvin Jordan (17 points) led five Niagara players in double figures, including Juan’ya Green (14 points and nine assists) and freshman T.J. Kline (11 points).
NU women triumph
Fresh off last year’s run to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference semifinals, where they lost to eventual champion Marist, the Niagara women opened the new season with a 63-59 triumph over Robert Morris at the Charles L. Sewall Center in Moon Township, Pa.
In a game that featured five lead changes with no team ahead by more than eight points, the Purple Eagles took the lead for good (53-52) with 4:11 left on a Jessica Flamm jumper. She added a pair of free throws 27 seconds later to push the lead to three and cap a 14-point effort. Meghan McGuinness and Kelly Van Leeuwen each had 11 points for the Purple Eagles, who return to action Monday when they host St. Bonaventure at 7 p.m.
Bona, UB tip today
The St. Bonaventure women’s team officially bids adieu to last year when it raises the curtain on this season with a 1 p.m. start against Binghamton at the Reilly Center.
The UB men have a noon tip at home against Princeton.