NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – In a game that featured 21 lead changes, the Purple Eagles were nipped in the final seconds by the Iona Gaels, 79-76, on Sunday afternoon.
Dominic Robb scored the game’s opening points before Iona answered with a 6-0 spurt. The Purple Eagles led 16-11 after a 14-5 run which included triples by Chris Barton, Raheem Solomon, and Marvin Prochet.
The Gaels used a 14-2 run to build a 25-18 lead with nine minutes left in the opening half. Niagara, then, seized control by outscoring the Gaels 23-6 over the next five minutes buoyed by five 3-pointers. Freshman Marcus Hammond’s consecutive 3-pointers jumpstarted a 10-2 run as NU led 28-27. Dominik Fragala, another freshman, entered the game and went 3-for-3 from behind the arc as part of a 13-4 run to lead 41-31 with three minutes remaining in the half. The Purple Eagles headed into halftime leading 42-35.
Niagara’s seven-point halftime lead increased to 11 points after a Prochet 3-pointer gave NU a 46-35 advantage 2:38 into the second half. The Gaels followed with a 19-3 run in a five-minute span for a 54-49 lead with 12 minutes left.
The Purple Eagles hit back with back-to-back 3-pointers by Marcus Hammond and James Townsto halt the run and retake the lead at 55-54 with 11 minutes remaining. After four lead changes in the next four minutes, a Prochet 3-pointer sparked a 7-2 run to take a 67-63 lead with 5:45 left. Iona responded with a 7-2 run of its own to go ahead, 70-69 with 3:39 left. The lead changed three more times before Niagara reclaimed the advantage at 76-75 on a Solomon tip-in with 1:15 remaining.
Niagara forced a turnover on Iona’s next possession, but was unable to capitalize as the Purple Eagles had an empty offensive possession. With 15 seconds remaining, the Gaels’ EJ Crawford missed the frontend of a 1-and-1 free throw attempt, but his teammate Tajuan Agee grabbed the rebound and was fouled on his shot; Agee made both free throws to give Iona a 77-76 lead.
On Niagara’s next possession, Prochet’s contested mid-range jumper rimmed out and Iona grabbed the rebound with one second on the clock. Iona’s Asante Gist scored the game’s final points at the free-throw line.
Eagle’s Eye On…
- Freshman Marcus Hammond led the Purple Eagles in scoring with a career-high 18 points in 29 minutes. The Queens, N.Y. native shot a career-best 78 percent from the field and made a career-high four 3-pointers on five attempts.
- Marvin Prochet stuffed the box sheet. He scored 17 points to be in double figures for the 21sttime in 22 games, had a team-high eight rebounds, and led NU in assists with a season-high four. Prochet, who leads the MAAC in 3-pointers made per game and in 3-point field goal percentage, made 5 of his 8 three-point attempts.
- Dominik Fragala finished with 10 points, including going 3-for-5 from 3-pointers.
- Raheem Solomon scored 10 points to be in double figures for the sixth time in the last seven games.
Inside The Numbers
- Niagara’s season-high 15 3-pointers are tied for third most in program history. The Purple Eagles made a season-high nine 3-pointers in the first half.
- The Purple Eagles blanked the Gaels in bench points, 42-0, to outscore Iona by a combined 89-6 in bench points in the two meetings.
- Marvin Prochet moved into sole possession of eighth place on the career blocks list with 110 and 28th on the career scoring list (1,269).
- The Purple Eagles return home for a pair of games beginning against Manhattan on Friday, February 15 at 7 p.m.
- The game will air on the Niagara Sports Network via LCTV, 107.3 FM/AM 1400 WWWS and www.PurpleEagles.com/Watch.
- For ticket information, contact the Niagara Athletic Ticket Office at 716-286 TIXX, tickets@Niagara.edu or www.PurpleEagles.com/Tickets.