Keleaf Tate tied a career high by scoring 17 points, and visiting Niagara held on for a 71-70 victory over Pittsburgh on Monday night.
Tate tied the career high he set against St. Bonaventure in the season opener three weeks ago as Niagara (3-4) halted a three-game losing streak.
The Golden Eagles won the fifth time all-time meeting between the schools despite playing without leading scorer and rebounder Marvin Prochet, who missed his third straight game with a toe injury. Without his presence, Niagara shot 48 percent.
James Towns, Greg Kuakumensah and Dominic Robb added 12 points apiece as Niagara built a 12-point lead before holding on in the final seven-plus minutes.
Xavier Johnson led all scorers with 19 points but missed a layup with three seconds left after Niagara committed a turnover on the inbounds play. Au’Diese Toney and Trey McGowens added 12 points apiece as Pittsburgh (7-2) was unable to match its win total from last season.
The Panthers shot 42 percent and absorbed their second one-point loss of the season, six days after a loss at Iowa.
Pittsburgh seemed poised to pull away when it took a 31-24 lead on a dunk by Terrell Brown with 3:49 remaining. The Purple Eagles responded to their largest deficit by closing the first half with a 10-2 spurt and took a 34-33 lead on a jumper from the right wing by Towns with four seconds remaining.
Niagara kept pace and took a 49-44 lead with 13:21 remaining when Tate hit his second straight 3-pointer, hitting an open shot from the right corner as Jared Wilson-Frame was late in rotating. The Purple Eagles kept going and took a 58-48 lead with 9:37 left on 3-pointer by Towns.
Niagara extended it to 64-52 on a cutting dunk by Greg King with 7:10 left after he blew by Kene Chukwuka. Pittsburgh’s offense finally came alive and scored the next seven points to get within 64-61 on a 3-pointer by Johnson with 4 1/2 minutes left.
The lead was down to 69-67 on a jumper by Johnson with 44 seconds left and Pitt had a chance for the tie following a turnover by Towns on the inbounds. But Wilson-Frame missed a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left and a jumper with 12 seconds remaining before Johnson’s missed layup.
—Field Level Media