**press release sent to NEOSI by Cleveland State Communications Team*****
NIAGARA, NY – Jamarcus Hairston scored a career-high 17 points and Cleveland State rallied from a late 11-point deficit, but fell to Niagara, 79-77, on Tuesday night at the Gallagher Center.
CSU fell to 3-7 in its fourth one possession game of the year, while Niagara improved to 6-6.
Hairston hit 7-of-9 from the field, bettering his old career-high of 13 points, while also adding five rebounds.
Anthony Wright scored 16 points with four rebounds and two steals and Kenny Carpenter added 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. Kasheem Thomas scored nine points and Dontel Highsmith grabbed six rebounds.
“It was a great game,” head coach Dennis Felton said. “Niagara is an explosive offensive team and I thought for the most part we defended them well, but rebounding was a big difference in the game, especially offensive rebounding and second chance points. It was a great accomplishment to hold them to 41-percent. A lot of good things came from this game. We are very, very close to becoming a team who can win a game like that, but we still have to grow with the physicality and toughness and execution down the stretch.”
Niagara built the largest lead of the game (73-62) with 5:24 to play, but two three-pointers and a three-point play from Wright and a jumper from Carpenter pulled CSU within one point (74-73) just two minutes later.
Niagara’s lead was still one point (78-77) after Wright split two free throws with 51 seconds to play and after Greg King split a pair of free throws on the other end, Tyree Appleby‘s driving layup missed and the Purple Eagles grabbed the rebound. CSU’s pressure forced Niagara into a 10 second violation, giving the Vikings one last chance, but Stefan Kenic‘s three-pointer was blocked and time expired.
CSU shot .500 (32-64) from the floor and held Niagara to .410 (25-of-61). However, the Purple Eagles knocked down 20-of-25 at the free throw line compared to 8-of-12 for the Vikings and out-rebounded CSU, 40-30, including 14 offensive rebounds which led to 15 second chance points.
The Vikings received 32 points from their bench and forced Niagara into 15 turnovers.
CSU is back in action on Thursday (Dec. 21) when the Vikings travel to No. 20 Cincinnati for a 7:00 pm game.