BY THOMAS BALDWIN
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — LEWISTON — Giancarlo Iuorio and Ryan Murphy each had a goal and an assist as the Niagara hockey team beat Sacred Heart 5-2 on Saturday.
The Purple Eagles are now 9-0-0 in Atlantic Hockey. They are 10-2-3 overall. They came into the weekend ranked 20th nationally. The latest polls come out early next week.
Niagara has won eight straight games.
The Pioneers are 0-9-2 in Atlantic Hockey and have no wins and two ties in 14 games overall.
Patrick Divjak, Ryan Rashid and Michael Benedict also scored for Niagara, while Carsen Chubak only had to make 22 saves. Divjak’s goal was his first this season. Iuorio has 12.
Brian Sheehan and Chad Filteau scored for Sacred Heart.
Sheehan and Filteau gave the Pioneers a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. Niagara trailed by two goals after the first period despite outshooting Sacred Heart 16-4.
“It wasn’t our best start to the game obviously, but that being said, Sacred Heart outhit us and outworked us in the first 20 minutes,” said Niagara coach Dave Burkholder.
But Niagara scored five times in the second period to take a 5-2 lead.
“After that, we settled right in,” Burkholder said about the next two periods. “I thought we took over the game.”
C.J. Chartrain had two assists for the Purple Eagles, who outshot Sacred Heart 52-24.
Niagara is unbeaten in its last 14 home games.
NOTES: The Purple Eagles only play two games in the next 28 days. They host RIT December 12 and play at Bowling Green Dec. 29.…. The Falcons and Niagara tied in the season opener on October 6.…..Niagara entered Saturday’s action with a 2-point lead over second-place Holy Cross in Atlantic Hockey. The Crusaders and Purple Eagles actually play each other on January 18-19 in Worcester, Massachusetts….Niagara is now 9-0-1 all time against Sacred Heart.
Kent State 55
LEWISTON — The Purple Eagles won their second game in a row Saturday afternoon at the Gallagher Center — the largest margin of victory since Kendra Faustin’s first game as head coach at Niagara.
Saturday’s 27-point win is the largest margin of victory since the 2007-08 season opener against Colgate that ended with a score of 78-39.
“We’re starting to gel offensively, which has really been our Achilles’ heel, so we’re really excited about that,” Faustin said. “We want to continue to make sure that defensively that night in and night out we’re doing the things we need to do.”
Niagara (3-3) took the early lead over the Golden Flash (0-7). Through the first 13 minutes of the half they shot 71.4 percent (10-14) from the floor and held a 25-20 lead.
The first half ended with Niagara outscoring Kent State off turnovers 19-2 and outrebounding the Golden Flashes 18-11 on its way to taking a 35-27 lead.
“We wanted to make sure we were dictating in the defensive end,” Faustin said. “It’s something that we talk about every game and I thought that we did that in the first half by putting a lot of ball pressure on and keeping them out of the middle of the paint.”
Niagara opened the third with a 13-4 run to extend their lead to 48-31 in the first five minutes of the second half. Kent State was able to battle back to get within 12 points with eight minutes to play, but the Purple Eagles closed out the game with a 23-8 run.
Lauren Gatto only played 21 minutes, but scored 18 points and pulled in a team-high nine rebounds. Chanel Johnson was right on her heels with 16 points and eight rebounds of her own. Kayla Stroman and Kelly Van Leeuwen added 11 points apiece.
Niagara scored 34 points off of 25 turnovers, the most in a game since the 2009-10 season when they forced 27 against Manhattan on Jan. 9, 2010. It also out-rebounded its opponent for the second time this season as NU pulled down 43 boards to Kent State’s 30.
The Purple Eagles are back on the court Saturday when they hit the road to face Lehigh. Tip-off is 7 p.m
NCCC 53, Davis 47
JAMESTOWN — Jess Curry (Wilson) had 15 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, Kristine Ripson (Lew-Port) had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Courtney Murray scored 10 points as the Thunderwolves (4-3) beat the 2012 Shenandoah & Chesapeake Conference tournament runners-up in their second game at the Jamestown Tournament.
Curry was named to the all-tournament team.
St. Bonaventure 82, Buffalo 79
ST. BONAVENTURE — Matthew Wright stole the ball and went in for a layup with just 24 seconds left in the game as the Bonnies (4-2) rallied to beat the Bulls on Saturday night at the Reilly Center.
With seven ticks left, St. Bonaventure senior Demitrius Conger stole the ball then hit two free throws to provide the margin of victory.
The Bulls hit a season-high 13 three-pointers – the most since 2010. Jarod Oldham netted 20 points, including five three-pointers – both career highs. Tony Watson drained four three-pointers and finished with 15 points and a career-high six assists.
The game featured eight ties and 16 lead changes.
St. Bonaventure led 53-48 with 14:04 left. A 7-1 UB scoring run, including five points by Oldham, put the Bulls ahead, 55-54, with 11:17 left. Another Oldham three, followed by a Javon McCrea layup gave the Bulls a 63-58 lead – their largest of the game.
After the lead see-sawed back and forth, the Bulls gained a 79-76 advantage on an Oldham free throw with 1:33 left. The Bulls regained possession of the ball with just over a minute remaining clinging to the three-point lead. However, St. Bonaventure forced turnovers on the Bulls’ final three possessions and finished the game on a 6-0 scoring run to pull out the victory.
McCrea notched his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. The junior forward scored his 1,000th career point in the game to become the fourth fastest player in school history to accomplish the feat.
Buffalo falls to 2-7 on the season and will next play at Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
Central Michigan 85, NCCC 77
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Eric Maney canned a game-high 37 points for the winners, including eight, 3-point baskets in the second half at the Columbus State Tournament.
Jake Hughes paced head coach Bill Beilein’s Thunderwolves with 23 points and 10 rebounds, to go along with six blocked shots for the 6-7 Niagara-Wheatfield graduate.
Also for NCCC, Eric Sandoval had 20 points and 7 rebounds; and John Marsh added 12 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists.
“We were down 33-26 at halftime and were missing a lot of energy. That really put us in the hole,” Beilein said. “I thought we were much better offensively in the second half, scoring 51 points, but did not play well defensively.”
Next up for the Thunderwolves is a game at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Medaille.
Niagara travels to Central Michigan
Coming off a difficult Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference road game and preparing for another one Wednesday, the Purple Eagles visit the Chippewas of the Mid-American Conference today (2 p.m., WWKB 1520 AM).
Niagara (2-4) has lost the first two of five games away from the Gallagher Center, but is 3-0 all-time against Central Michigan (3-3). The most recent matchup was a 2011 BracketBuster contest that the Purple Eagles came back from nine points down in the second half to win 61-55.