Niagara 93, Rider 89

BY foxsports • March 9, 2009

Bilal Benn hit a turnaround jumper in the paint with 1:15 left in double overtime, then made a steal with 2 seconds remaining to lift Niagara to a 93-89 victory against Rider in the semifinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament Sunday night. Rider seemed to have the game in hand in regulation after Novar Gadson broke away for a dunk with 17 seconds to play in regulation. But Tyrone Lewis banked in a 3-pointer from about 30-feet over two defenders from that tied the game at 71-all with 1.7 seconds to go. The win sent Niagara to the title game for the third time in five years, where it will face Siena on Monday night. Benn scored 20 points and grabbed 19 rebounds for the Purple Eagles (26-7), but it was his steal from Ryan Thompson with Niagara clinging to a 91-89 lead in the final seconds that locked it up. Benson Egemonye added 22 points and added 11 rebounds, and Anthony Nelson had 21 points. In the first overtime, Niagara pushed to a six-point lead with 70 seconds to go but couldn't hold it. Rider tied it at 80 on Thompson's lay-in to set up the second overtime. Thompson had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the Broncs (19-12), who also got 20 points and 12 rebounds from Mike Ringgold. The championship game matches the last two MAAC champions and is a rematch of the 2007 final, won by Niagara 83-79.

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