Feb. 24, 2012
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. - Niagara went on a 26-0 first half run and led by as many as 36 points in an 87-66 win over Siena Friday night at the Gallagher Center. With the result, Siena and Niagara are now tied for fifth in the MAAC Standings with one game remaining.
Siena (10-16, 8-9) can still finish as high as fifth with a win Sunday over Canisius coupled with a Niagara (11-18, 8-9) loss to Manhattan. The Saints, Purple Eagles and Iona are all in contention for the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds in an attempt to avoid the First Round of the MAAC Tournament.
But Siena will need to show improvement Sunday if it wants to avoid having to open Thursday in Springfield.
The Saints committed 23 turnovers - 16 in the first half - and allowed Niagara to shoot 63% (34-54) from the field in scoring a season-high in points.
With Niagara leading 17-11 with 11:38 remaining in the first half, the Purple Eagles pulled away. The Purple Eagles held Siena scoreless for nine and a half minutes and when Kanika Cummings scored with 2:14 remaining in the half, the Saints' deficit was 30 and they would go into the lockerroom trailing 43-15.
Siena showed some life in the second half and cut the deficit to as close as 18. The Saints scored 51 points in the period, shooting an even 50% (16-32) from the field. Niagara however scored 44 points of their own, shooting a whopping 77.3% (17-22) for the final stanza.
But the comeback bid was not nearly enough as Siena lost its shot at controlling its own destiny, missing an opportunity to lock up a top-five seed and avoid having to compete in First Round action.
Niagara spread out its scoring as 11 of the 12 players who played scored and 48 points came from their bench. Lauren Gatto and Meghan McGuinness led the way with 14 points apiece as Niagara snapped a four-game homecourt losing streak. Additionally, four players dealt out four or more assists for Niagara which finished with 25 for the game.
Cummings paced the Saints with 15 of her career-high 17 points coming in the second half and shot 8-11 from the field. Clara Sole Anglada added 12 points and Lily Grenci contributed 10.
Siena will now need a win or an Iona loss Sunday against Saint Peter's to avoid finishing in the bottom four. The Saints and Golden Griffins tip off at 2 p.m. Sunday in Buffalo.