Providence, R.I. - Junior guard Sean McGonagill scored a game high 23 points, including seven in overtime, to lead Brown to a 75-74 come-from-behind win over Niagara at the Pizzitola Sports Center. The win lifts the Bears to 5-8 overall, while Niagara falls to 7-8.
Bears' senior guard Matt Sullivan sent the game into overtime when he knocked down a pull-up trey with 12.4 seconds remaining to tie the game, 62-62. He also had a chance to win in at the buzzer following a McGonagill steal, but his trey hit the back of the rim and fell out.
In overtime, Brown took the lead for good, 69-67, on a lay-up by senior forward Tyler Ponticelli with 52 seconds remaining. McGonagill took control to extend the Bears' lead to five points, 72-67, with a free throw, followed by a steal and a lay-up with 28 seconds remaining to give the Bears a 72-67 advantage. His free throw with 15 seconds left gave Brown its biggest lead of the game, 73-67.
Niagara treys by Juan'ya Green, and Antoine Mason at the final buzzer made it close at the end.
"That's a really good win over a good Niagara team, who is in first place in its conference," said Brown head coach Mike Martin. "It wasn't pretty, but we won the game on the defensive backboards where we outrebounded them 53-42. Tyler Ponticelli was especially good tonight and made some big plays for us down the stretch."
McGonagill added seven assists and five rebounds to go with his 23 points. Sullivan scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while junior forward Tucker Halpern registered a double-double with 15 points and a game high 10 rebounds.
Ponticelli finished with six points and six rebounds for the Bears, while freshman Cedric Kuakumensah had six points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
Ameen Tanksley scored 18 points for the Purple Eagles before fouling out with 2:00 left in regulation. Green added 17 points for Niagara and Mason chipped in with 13 points.
Trailing 37-27 at the half, Brown opened the second half with a 9-0 run on treys by Halpern, Sullivan and McGonagill to trail, 37-36.
Brown grabbed its first lead of the game, 40-39, on two Sullivan free throws with 14:00 left in the game. From that point on, there were eight lead changes in a wide-open second half.
The Bears held a 50-49 lead after a McGonagill trey with 8:20 remaining, but Niagara came storming back to pull ahead, 62-56, with 1:32 left in regulation a lay-up by Tahjere McCall.
Brown scored the last six points in regulation on a three-point play by Sullivan with 1:22 left, and McGonagill's trey to send it into overtime.
Niagara jumped out to a 10-2 lead with a barrage of treys and full-court pressure on the Bears. Brown pulled to within four points, 14-10, on a free throw by Rafael Maia with 11:05 left in the half.
The Purple Eagles opened up their biggest lead of the half, 36-17, on a trey by Green with 3:29 left to complete a 22-7 run.
Brown went on 10-0 run of its own to claw back in the game, 36-27, on a trey by junior Tucker Halpern with 57 seconds remaining. A late Niagara free throw gave the Purple Eagles a 37-27 lead at intermission.
In its last game before the start of the Ivy League season, Brown hosts Daniel Webster (NH) on Saturday, January 12 at the Pizzitola Sports Center, starting at 2:00 pm.
Pictured: Matt Sullivan '13. photo by dspics.com