Niagara moved another step closer to clinching a first-round bye for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament with a 48-43 victory over Manhattan on Sunday afternoon at the Gallagher Center.
Canisius and St. Bonaventure, however, suffered conference losses that hurt their postseason chances.
In Lewiston, Niagara (14-13, 9-7 MAAC) was resilient enough to overcome a 10-0 deficit for the victory that kept the Purple Eagles in a tie for fourth place with Rider in the conference standings. Niagara has a two-game lead over Canisius and Siena, who are tied for sixth place with a 7-9 record with just two regular season MAAC games left. The top six teams in the final standings avoid the 7-10, 8-9 play-in games in the postseason tournament next month in Springfield, Mass.
Niagara owns the tiebreaker advantage over Rider because it swept the season series.
“We’ll focus on the positives right now,” Niagara coach Kendra Faustin said. “It’s a win on Senior Day, we did a great job defensively, I thought we finished the game well, with game management and we made free throws when it mattered. We took care of the basketball, and got it inbounds correctly.”
Meghan McGuinness hit consecutive three-pointers for six of her game-high 20 points to put the Purple Eagles in front, 32-28, early in the second half. They gave up the lead only once after that for a total of 72 seconds.
Ashley Durham joined the Canisius 1,000-point career club with a three-point field goal with 17:53 left in the first half, but that was one of the few positives in the Griffs’ 67-56 loss to Fairfield (17-10, 11-4) at the Koessler Center. Durham had 16 points. Fairfield swept the season series from the Griffs.
Canisius (10-17, 7-9 MAAC) seems destined for the play-in round in the MAAC Tournament.
Atlantic 10 Conference opponents are getting even with St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies’ 57-52 loss to George Washington (12-14, 6-6 A-10) in the Smith Center in Washington, D.C., marked the eighth opponent to reverse the outcome of losses to the A-10 regular season champions of a year ago.
Freshman Katie Healy (Lancaster) had 14 points and 12 rebounds in the loss. The Bonnies scored the game’s first basket, a three by CeCe Dixon, but that was their only lead of the game against the Colonials (12-14, 6-6).
Only the top 12 finishers in the regular season standings qualify for the A-10 postseason tournament. Bonaventure (9-18, 2-10 A-10) stands in 14th place, two games out of 12th.