Twenty offensive rebounds provided Niagara with 11 more shots than Mt. St. Mary's as the visiting Purple Eagles downed the Mount 74-64 in a mid-major clash on Thanksgiving Eve at the Knott Arena.
Niagara broke open a close game (30-28) with a 10-1 run near the end of the first half to take a double digit lead. The Eagles used their experience and advantage on the glass to fend off any challenge the Mounties threw at them the rest of the way.
Tyrone Lewis led Niagara with 18 points and knocked down 5 first-half three-pointers off the bench. Bilal Benn scored 14 and grabbed 18 rebounds in the win.
The Mount was led by Jean Cajou with 20 points. Kelly Beidler 11 points and Shawn Atupem 10 were also in double figures for the Mount.
The Mount closed to within six with about 15 minutes left in the second half, but Niagara quickly restored the lead.
Niagara is a very good team - and it is unlikely that the Mount will face as strong and physical a team as the Purple Eagles were in its gym again this season. The Mount made its share of three pointers, but missed its share of open jumpers and inside shots as well.
This is the type of game that is good to play early in the year and the Mount will be better because of it in the long run.
The Mount is back in action on Saturday at Navy. I'll have more thoughts tomorrow after I have a night to absorb things.