Niagara out-scored Sam Houston State 9-2 in the final five minutes of the game to edge the Bearkats on the final night of the Progressive College Basketball Experience Classic hosted this week by Mercer University.
Konner Tucker tied the contest 50-50 with a three-pointer with 5:21 to play. But the Eagles limited Sam Houston to just two points the rest of the way to ice Niagara’s second victory in five contests this season. The Kats dropped to 1-4 for the year.
Marcus James, who gave Sam Houston its biggest lead of the game, 19-13, with a free throw with 7:58 left in the first half, led the Bearkats in scoring with 14 points. Tucker and Michael Holyfield both scored 11 points. Holyfield led Sam Houston on the boards with seven.
The Bearkats led for much of the first half. But Skylar Jones gave the Purple Eagles a 24-23 lead on a fast break layup with 4:58 to go in the first period and Niagara ended the half up by a narrow 26-25 margin.
The Eagles built on their slim lead early in the second half, going up 43-36, but 14-7 run by the Bearkats knotted the contest again with 5:21 to play.
Juanya Green, who led Niagara with 18 points, hit what proved to be the winning three-pointer to put Niagara up 53-50 with 4:20 to go.