Dec. 5, 2003
Niagara University captured a 65-56 victory over Siena College in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play this evening at the Alumni Recreation Center in Loudonville, N.Y. The match-up marked the first in the league for the two teams. The Purple Eagles improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference with the win, while Siena fell to 2-4 on the season and 0-1 in MAAC play with the setback.
Colleen Toetz drained a three-pointer that was quickly followed by a layup by Eva Cunningham as the Purple Eagles sprinted out to a five-point lead before a minute was able to tick away off the clock. Niagara never relinquished their lead to the Saints throughout the first, holding at least a one-point advantage over Siena at all times.
The two teams remained a bucket or two apart for the first 13 minutes of play before Niagara embarked on a 7-0 run, taking their biggest lead of the half at 26-19 with a little over six minutes remaining. Jolene Johnston connected on a layup and Trish Lyons responded with a three-pointer as the Saints pulled back to within two points at 26-24, but the Cunningham and Toetz duo combined for eight of the next ten Niagara points, while Siena only managed one basket, giving their team a 36-26 advantage as they entered the locker room. Cunningham, the only player to reach double figures by the conclusion of the first half, scored 13 of her eventual 17 points in the opening stanza.
Siena began to chip away at the 10-point gap in the second, as Michelle Blot made a layup to bring the Saints to within four just five minutes into the half. Blot then tied the game up for the Saints at 8:16 on a nine foot jumper for a 45-45 score. The Green and Gold took their first lead of the game moments later as Johnston converted on a three-point play to put Siena on top, but the lead was short-lived as the Purple Eagles hit three-straight three pointers to quickly go up by six with six minutes to go.
The Saints were unable to make up the difference in the closing minutes as the Purple Eagles walked away with the 65-56 victory.
Johnston led all scorers and finished the game with a career high 22 points, 13 of which came in the second half. She also pulled in a game high seven rebounds and posted three assists and one steal. Blot also netted double figures, recording 10 points while matching the game-high seven rebounds.
Cunningham led Niagara with 17 points while Toetz and Ann Mimm finished with 11 and 17, respectively.
The Saints will head back on the court on Sunday as they host Canisius College and try to grab their first MAAC victory of the season. Game-time is scheduled for 2 p.m.