Friday, March 2, 2012

Youthful Niagara Men Move On, Beating Canisius

The battle of the MAAC's Western New York teams this season was definitively won by Niagara, which knocked off Canisius, 80-70, in a first-round game of the conference's men's tournament in Friday's near "Midnight Madness" (the game ended at 11:53 p.m.) contest.

The victory was the Purple Eagles' third this season over their proximitous rival and sends them to Saturday's 7:30 p.m. quarterfinal-round contest against second-seeded Loyola. Niagara is now 14-18 overall this season.

Canisius, which won just one game in its last 14 outings, falls to a 5-25 overall record.

"It's a rivalry game, one you both love and hate, but our guys were excited about playing Canisius," said Niagara coach Joe Mihalich. "It was a good game for us. We've ot the third-youngest team in the country and for them to get a post-season tournament victory ... it's something for us to build on.

"Hopefully, it will give us a little momentum for our next game."

Niagara's youth delivered in grand style with freshman guard Juan'ya, the conference's Rookie of the Year, finishing with a team-high 20 points while freshman forward Ameen Tanksley added 14 points and 10 rebounds and frosh guard Antoine Mason chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds.

Canisius got 58 of its 70 points from its strong backcourt of juniors Harold Washington (a game-high 24 points), Gaby Belardo (18 pints) and Alshwan Hymes (16 points).

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