Niagara scored five quick points at the start of the second half, turning a three-point halftime deficit into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in an 83-72 victory over Davidson.
Antoine Mason, who came into the night leading the nation in scoring at 29.4 points, was held to eight below his average, but he hit 12-of-15 from the free throw line to help Niagara keep Davidson (4-6) at a distance.
Davidson, 324th nationally surrendering 81 points per game, lived up to its ranking as Niagara shot 48 percent from the field.
“I’m very proud of our guys because we stayed strong,” Niagara first-year coach Chris Casey told purpleeagles.com.
The Wildcats got to within 56-53 on a jumper by Tom Droney (team-high 17 points) with 7:28 left to play in the second. Niagara scored nine of the next 13 points to go up eight with 5:21 to play.
It was the first meeting between the schools.
Central Florida 79, Howard 64
Kasey Wilson and Calvin Newell combined for 39 points in the Golden Knights’ home victory.
Central Florida (5-3) trailed 32-30 at halftime, but used a 22-7 second-half run - Wilson led the way with eight points during the spurt - to pull away. Central won its 16th consecutive game against teams from the MEAC, last losing to Florida A&M in December, 2002.
Howard (2-10), which was playing without leading scorer James Davis (toe injury) got 20 points from Prince Okoroh, but still lost their 10th straight game. The Bison made just 38 percent of their field goal attempts in falling to Central Florida for the third consecutive time.
Led by Wilson, who hit 3-of-5 and Newell (4-of-9), the Golden Knights made a season-high 14 3-pointers.
Bowling Green 79, North Dakota 69
Richaun Holmes scored 21 points to lead four in double figures and added 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots as the Falcons avenged a 2012 loss to the Fighting Sioux.
The Falcons shot a blistering 56 percent (27-for-49) from the field as Spencer Parker added 19 points and Cameron Black and Jehvon Clarke combined for 25 points.
In North Dakota’s 56-53 win a year ago in Grand Forks, Jamal Webb had 12 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer, but in the rematch Webb was held to just three points. Troy Huff scored 19 points and Jaron Nash added 17 while collecting nine rebounds for North Dakota (2-6), which dropped their fifth straight game.
Jacksonville State 63, Alcorn State 52
The host Gamecocks went on an 18-2 first-half run and Alcorn (3-6) made just five of their first 31 field goal attempts and never recovered.
LeAntwan Luckett led all scorers with 17 points for Alcorn State, which fell to 1-5 all-time in the series.
Undra Mitchem had 13 points, all in the second half, Jamal Hunter added 10 with nine rebounds and Brian Williams handed out eight assists for Jacksonville State (4-7).
Louisiana Tech 93, Northwestern State 71
The Bulldogs won the battle of two high-scoring teams, shooting 58 percent in the home win.
Tech (8-2), which came into the game 21st nationally in scoring at 85.4 points, jumped out to a 15-4 lead, and though the Bulldogs had their cushion trimmed to 28-24, Raheem Appleby (28 points) scored 11 points over the final 5:19 of the first half and Tech built a double-digit lead it would keep for the remainder of the night.
Speedy Smith, top-30 in the nation in assists, dished out a season-high 12 Wednesday for Tech.
“I thought overall for us, especially offensively as you look over the stats, Raheem Appleby and Speedy Smith were both very good for us,” Bulldogs third-year coach Michael White told latechsports.com. “To shoot that percentage (58), we will take it every night and hopefully we continue to get that.”
Northwestern State (3-5) was 11th nationally in scoring (87.7 points), but went stretches of 4:15 and 3:29 where it didn’t convert a field goal. The Demons were 344th of 345 Division I teams in scoring defense, (91.6 points allowed) and it showed as Tech made 38-of-65 field goals, led by Appleby’s 12-for-22 night.
Jalan West led the visitors with 28 points, though he had seven of the team’s 19 turnovers.
NC Greensboro 75, Claflin 70
The Spartans nearly watched their double-digit lead evaporate, but escaped at home against the Division II Panthers.
Greensboro (5-5) was coming off a 31-point loss to North Carolina, yet jumped out to a lead as large as 19 points at 36-17 on a lay up by R.J. White with 1:19 remaining in the opening half. Claflin, a school based out of Orangeburg, South Carolina, pulled to within 71-70 on a dunk by Brian Newsome with 1:31 left in the game.
Kayel Locke, who led the UNCG with 25 points, and Nicholas Paulos each knocked down a pair of free throws to help the hosts escape.
Montel Williams had 26 points off the bench, including hitting 6-of-7 3-pointers to lead Claflin (3-5), which was playing its fourth game of an eight-game road trip that concludes January 4.