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November 10, 2013

Niagara drops season opener at Seton Hall

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NEWARK, N.J. — The NCAA issued an under-the-radar edict to men’s basketball referees over the offseason to cutdown on hand checking and other defensive fouls in an effort to (eventually) open up the offensive part of the game and increase scoring, which dipped to 67.5 points per game last season — the lowest since the 1981-82 season.

The first game of the Niagara Purple Eagles’ 2012-13 season gave a glimpse of what the game might look like while teams adjust. Niagara and the Seton Hall Pirates combined to commit 73 fouls — 11 shy of the NCAA record set in 1953 — in the Purps’ 83-72 loss Saturday night at the Prudential Center.

“It’s obviously something we’re going to have to adjust to, as are most teams,” said NU’s Chris Casey, who made his debut as head coach of the Purple Eagles. “It’s going to be important that we continue to work on guarding without fouling, but that’s fixable.”

The teams shot a collective 102 free throws, though both teams struggled from the line. Niagara (0-1) shot 64 percent (32 of 50) from the stripe, while Seton Hall (1-0) hit 63.5 percent (33 of 52). NU had four players foul out, including starters Marvin Jordan, Ramone Snowden and Cameron Fowler. The Pirates had two players disqualified.

The biggest difference came on shots from the field, of which the Pirates hit 48 percent (24 of 50) compared to NU’s 37.3 (19 of 51). Both teams struggled from the 3-point line, hitting twice apiece from deep. Seton Hall moved the ball markedly better, dishing 11 assists to NU’s 6.

“If you don’t make shots, assists will be low. We found ways to score, but if we make a few more shots, maybe we put ourselves in a different spot at the end,” Casey said.

NU never led and trailed 39-24 at half. The Pirates led by 19 before the Purple Eagles closed the game on an 8-0 run.

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