NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, NY -- Niagara juniors Kahlil Dukes and Matt Scott poured in 22 points apiece to lead the Purple Eagles past Siena Basketball 71-66 at the Gallagher Center. Red-shirt senior forward Brett Bisping scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half to pace the Saints.
In a game that featured 10 ties and 16 lead changes, Niagara (5-10, 2-2) broke a 47-all deadlock midway through the second half with 12 straight points spanning just 1:55 to reclaim the lead for good. Scott capped the decisive spurt with back-to-back three-point plays to give the Purple Eagles a 59-47 advantage with 10:13 to play.
But for the second straight game, Siena (4-11, 1-3) battled back to nearly overcome a late double-digit road deficit. Bisping spurred a 10-1 run with six points to rally the Saints back within as close as a point at 67-66 with 93 seconds to go.
Siena had a great chance to reclaim the lead on the ensuing possession, but following a missed layup and attempted tip in, Niagara's Dominic Robb converted the definitive three-point play at the other end to extend the Purple Eagles' lead to four with 31.7 seconds remaining. Robb finished with 10 points and five rebounds for Niagara, which snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series.
The Saints, which shot just 37.1% from the field, missed their final six shots in dropping their fourth straight. The narrow defeat was Siena's fifth by five points or less this season, including all three of their MAAC road losses.
Senior forward Javion Ogunyemi added 17 points and a season-high nine rebounds, and classmate Marquis Wright contributed 13 points and five assists for the Saints which have dropped 11 in a row on the road dating back to last season. Meanwhile Toronto native Kadeem Smithen chipped in 31 spirited minutes off the bench in front of a throng of friends and family in attendance. He had a season-high four assists without committing a turnover, while adding a season-best seven points.
After playing 10 of their first 15 games on the road to open the season, three of the Saints' next four matchups will be contested within the friendly confines of the Times Union Center. Siena returns to the Capital Region for its first home game of 2017 Saturday night when they host Saint Peter's at 7 p.m.