The No. 16 Albertus Magnus men's basketball team won its ninth-straight game with an 87-79 victory over No. 13 SUNY-Purchase on Monday night in front of a tremendous home crowd to improve to 15-1 on the year and to hand the Panthers their first loss of the season.
Albertus finished the night 45.7% from the floor and 12-of-31 from behind the arc in one of its biggest wins in program history.
Darius Watson (New Britain, Conn.) led the Falcons with 32 points for his third game with 30 or more points this season, including his second-straight. He shot 10-of-23 from the floor and 7-of-13 from behind the arc. He added eight rebounds in 40 minutes of work.
Victor Ljuljdjuraj (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) pulled down 18 boards to go along with five blocked shots and nine points.
Purchase's Andre Nixon led all scorers with 38 points. He added four steals, seven rebounds and a 15-of-17 showing from the charity stripe. David Haughton added a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds, while Joel Neri also had a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards. The Panthers finished the game shooting 35.5% from the field.
In the first half, after the score was tied at 12, a Watson three pointer put the Falcons up for good in the frame. The Falcons' extended their lead to 14 points with 1:35 left in the frame after taking a double-digit lead at 36-26 with 3:45 on the clock. The 14-point lead in the first half proved to be the Falcons' largest lead of the contest.
At the break, Albertus led 42-31 as the Falcons hit 8-of-21 from behind the arc and shot 50% from the field. Watson led the Falcons at the intermission with 15 points, while Davis added 13. Ljuljdjuraj registered 12 first-half rebounds, including 11 on the defensive end.
Purchase shot just 28.2% in the opening half and only hit three of their 11 attempts from three-point land.
Purchase cut the Falcons' lead to four at 51-47 in the opening minutes of the second half before keeping the game close. With just over 11 minutes to go in the contest, the Panthers tied the score at 60 before taking a 63-21 lead on a Franklin Mickens three-pointer. The two-point lead was the Panthers' first since leading 1-0 to begin the game.
The Panthers pushed out to a four-point lead at 65-61, their largest of the game, and held the lead until a Jennings fast-break layup put the Falcons ahead 72-71. Purchase tied the score again at 74 apiece before a Lemar Larsen (Waterbury, Conn.) bucket put the Falcons up for good.
Watson hit two key free-throws in the final minutes of the contest to give the Falcons a 79-75 lead and then followed that up with a three-pointer to give the Falcons a seven-point advantage.
In their first-ever meeting, the Falcons tally the first notch in the win column with the eight-point victory.
Albertus will host Johnson & Wales (R.I.) on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) match-up in New Haven.