Marshall Escapes Niagara, 92-90

The stellar play of junior college transfer Marvin Black and junior shooting guard Ronald Blackshear timely shooting down the stretch were just enough to lead Marshall University's youthful Thundering Herd squad to a 92-90 win over Niagara, before a boisterous crowd of 1,492 in the 2,400-seat Niagara University Gallagher Center.

Marvin Black scored 25 points and Ronald Blackshear added added a game-high 32, inclluding a clutch fade away three-pointer with a defender in his face with only 29 seconds to play, breaking an 87-87 tie, to lead Marshall back from a three-point halftime deficit and start the 2002-03 season off with an impressive road victory in one of toughest venues in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

"We played hard and rebounded our tails off," Blackshear said. "We made some mistakes, but working hard and playing with a lot of emotion makes up for that."

"We fought and we fought and we fought," Black said. "Playing in an atmosphere like this really gets me going. Niagara is a very very good team."

Despite 16 first-half points from junior Marvin Black, Marshall entered the locker-room at the half trailing 48-45. Niagara placed three players in double figures scoring in the first half as Trammell Darden, James Reaves, and Juan Mendez acounted for all but eight of the Purple Eagles first half points. Darden hit seven of 11 first half shots for 17 points, followed by Reaves's 12 and Mendez's 11. Niagara connected on 18-38 (47.4%) first half shots, while Marshall hit 14 of 27 (51.9%).

Marshall started the second half with an impressive 22-11 run to take a 67-59 lead, however the Purple Eagles battled back and knotted the score at 69-69 at the 8:09 mark. From there a gut-wrenching see-saw battle began and the game would not be decided until the final second.

Marshall's Blackshear hit a three-pointer with only 29 seconds to go , breaking an 87-87 tie, to put the Herd up 90-87. Following a missed three-point attempt by Niagara's James Reaves with 12 seconds to go, the Purple Eagles fouled Marshall's Black. The Marshall junior then made the first of two free throws to put Marshall up 91-87 with 11 seconds to play.

Following a Niagara timeout, Alvin Cruz narrowed the lead down to one with a three pointer that would set up a dramatic finish. Off of a Marshall in bounds pass with four seconds to go Ronald Blackshear was fouled. He immediately went to the line and made the first of two free throw shots.

From there the Purple Eagles called a time out with less than two seconds to go setting up a last second three-point shot from Rhossi Carros that missed wide left and gave Marshall the 92-90 win.

Blackshear finished with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting and was a solid seven of 11 from three-point range. Black was seven of 11 from the floord and added seven rebounds. Ardo Armpalu scored 11 points and grabbed a team-high nine boards. Niagara placed five players in double-figures with Trammell Darden's career-high 30 points leading the way.

Marshall (1-0) returns home to face Kentucky State on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

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