It looked too familiar. Marist was down three with 1.5 seconds left, and it was up to Chavaughn Lewis to make a halfcourt heave. Unlike last week’s game against Iona, this one wasn’t meant to be, and the Red Foxes fell to Niagara 57-54.
“It was a tough loss to swallow,” Marist head coach Chuck Martin said. “We didn’t hit free throws, we didn’t play great, but quite honestly neither did theyBut you can’t leave 12 points on the table from the free-throw line and try to beat the number one team.”
Juan’ya Green’s three-pointer gave Niagara the lead with 1.5 seconds left, and the win. Green finished with 20 points to lead all scorers.
Niagara held the slight lead after a low-scoring first half at 24-22. The Purple Eagles had led by nine at one point. The 24 points Niagara scored was 27 points fewer than the 51 the Purple Eagles scored in the first half at home against the Red Foxes earlier this year.
Marist came back to take a lead early in the second half at 35-33 thanks to a more involved Adam Kemp, but the Purple Eagles soon retook the lead using an 13-4 run to go up 50-42.
Marist then went on a quick 8-0 run to tie the game at 50, with six of the eight points coming from the free-throw line. Niagara then returned with four straight points of their own.
With Marist down 54-53, the Foxes forced a turnover and had numbers in transition, but Lewis was fouled at halfcourt. Lewis made one of two shots from the line. Following a Niagara timeout, Juan’ya Green hit a three-pointer with 1.5 seconds left to break the tie. In a similar play design to the half-court shot against Iona last week, the Red Foxes inbounded the ball to Lewis, but his heave came up short and the Purple Eagles walked away with the victory.
Adam Kemp led Marist with 17 points.
With the win, Niagara (11-4, 15-11) stayed in first place in the MAAC. Marist fell to 7-19 overall and 4-11 in conference play.
The Red Foxes will next take on MAAC opponent Rider on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Alumni Gymnasium in Lawrenceville, N.J.