Antoine Mason had a big second half, finishing with 31 points, but it wasn’t enough as Niagara dropped a 102-97 decision at Kent State in the finale of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Saturday night at the M.A.C. Center.
Mason, the nation’s leading scorer, didn’t hit his first field goal until nearly 15 minutes into the contest. He finished with 12 baskets on 20 attempts. Ramone Snowden added 21 for the Purple Eagles, who fell to 1-4.
Kent’s Kellon Thomas connected on six straight free throws in the final 20 seconds.
Kent State watched an 11-point first-half lead slide to a slim 44-43 advantage at halftime. The Purple Eagles took a three-point lead in the early minutes of the second half before K.K. Simmons and Khalig Spicer came off the bench to give the Golden Flash a spark.
Kent State’s bench came back to outscore Niagara, 37-29, after the Purple Eagles’ reserves held a 24-10 advantage in the first half.
Hannah Little hit a free throw with 18 seconds left as St. Bonaventure edged Boston University, 65-64, in the second of three rounds of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge on the campus of the University of Connecticut.
Little finished with a career-high 18 rebounds to go with her 13 points for her first career double-double.
The game featured 21 lead changes and six ties.
Katie Healy (Lancaster) led all players with 20 points. She has recorded 20 points or more in three games this season.
The Bonnies never trailed in the game’s last seven minutes. BU tied the game with 1:30 left, but it could never get ahead.
The Bonnies end their stay at UConn in a big way today, taking on the No. 1-ranked Huskies at the XL Center in Hartford. The game will mark the Bonnies’ first contest against a No. 1-ranked opponent.
UConn (7-0) cruised to a 100-46 win over Monmouth in the second day game. Breanna Stewart scored 24 points as five players were in double figures.
• After four starts Niagara is in the win column. Val McQuade scored a career-high 18 points as the Eagles (1-3) beat winless Binghamton, 69-53, in the Gallagher Center.
Gabby Baldasare made her first career start and pulled down seven rebounds in 21 minutes.
“I’m so happy for Gabby, she’s worked really hard, she has certainly put in the time and effort, and she is really talented,” coach Kendra Faustin said. “Rebounding and running the floor is her game and I thought she did a great job with that tonight.”
Niagara enjoyed a 17-0 run in the first half to grab the early momentum. The Bearcats were held to 26.1 percent shooting and committed 10 turnovers. Effective work by McQuade and Taylor McKay in the lane help Niagara build a 36-21 halftime lead.
The Bearcats got within single digits, 46-39, with 12 minutes left in the game, but the Purple Eagles responded with a 13-2 run to go up, 59-41. The Purple Eagles helped themselves by going 13 of 13 from the free throw line on the night.
“I thought our press was really good tonight, and we had talked about before the game that it was going to be really important,” Faustin said. “As they started to make a run I think that really helped us.”