March 4, 2007
Bridgeport, Conn. - Freshman guard Tyrone Lewis came off the Purple Eagles bench to score a team-high 23 points and help guide Niagara into the MAAC Championship game with a 89-79 victory over Loyola in the semifinals of the 2007 MAAC Championship Sunday night at the Arena at Harbor Yard.
Niagara (21-11) will face fourth-seeded Siena in the championship game Monday night. The Saints earned their trip with an 86-78 victory over regular-season champion Marist in the first semifinal of the evening. Loyola finishes it season with an 18-13 record, the most school wins for a Greyhounds team since the 1970-71 season when the Greyhounds posted a 19-7 mark.
"We just didn't have it tonight," Greyhounds third-year head coach Jimmy Patsos reflected after the contest. "I'm proud of the way our team played tonight. We knew we had to play 120 minutes this weekend and we played 40 hard minutes last night, but thought we played only 30 tonight. I'm happy we won a tournament game because we didn't do that in my first two years. We had a really good year for Loyola basketball and next year we are going to go for the whole thing."
After Niagara scored the first five points of the game, the Greyhounds battled back to tie the score four times, the last at 19-19 with 8:49 left before halftime. The Purple Eagles went on a 28-18 run to finish the half to take a 47-37 advantage at the intermission. Lewis scored 12 of his points and senior forward Clif Brown tallied 13 to lead Niagara. Loyola junior guard Gerald Brown led all scorers with 15 points as he tried to keep the Greyhounds in it.
Niagara scored 13 of the next 21 points to build a 60-45 lead with 16:13 left. Loyola responded by scoring 11 of the next 14 points to cut the deficit to seven at 63-56, culminated by a three-point play from junior center Hassan Fofana. Lewis his a pair of free throws and Brown a three-pointer to push the lead to more than 10 again and the Greyhounds would get no closer.
Purple Eagles senior guard Lorenzo Miles made eight of 12 shots from the field for 22 points, Brown finished with 18 and junior forward Charron Fisher added 16 as Niagara shot 50.8 percent from the field (31-61) while dominating the boards with a 41-23 rebounding advantage.
Brown led the Greyhounds in scoring for the 22 time, finishing with a game-high 26 points, including eight of eight from the free-throw line. Senior forward Josko Alujevic finished his career with 13 points, making all six of his shots from the field. Fofana added a season-high 11 points off the bench, playing just 13 minutes.