Purple Eagles



Purple Eagles Highlights

General Team Information:

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Past Conferences: Western New York Little Three Conference, Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference North, North Atlantic Conference
City: Lewiston, New York
Arena: Gallagher Center
NCAA Tournaments: 3 (1970, 2005, 2007)


National Championships – 0
Conference Titles – 9 (1948, 1949, 1950, 1953, 1954, 1955,1999, 2005, 2013)

Team History

The Niagara Purple Eagles first took to the basketball courts in the 1905-06 season, playing a six-game schedule that saw four games against Niagara Falls and single games against Lockport and Buffalo Club. The team went 4-2 in its initial season and played as an independent through the 1945-46 season.

Before the start of the 1946-47 season, Niagara joined forces with Canisius and St. Bonaventure and formed the Western New York Little Three Conference, which lasted through the 1957-58 season. During this time, the Purple Eagles won six conference titles and played in the NIT six times, winning the third-place game against Western Kentucky in 1954.

The Purple Eagles returned to playing as an independent in the 1958-59 season, earning the team’s first NCAA Tournament bid as an independent in 1970 after going 22-7 during the regular season. The Purple Eagles returned to conference play in the 1979-80 season, competing in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference North, North Atlantic Conference. Niagara moved to the North Atlantic Conference in 1988-89 and joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference the following year.

Niagara won the MAAC conference tournament in 2005 and 2007, earning berths to the NCAA Tournament in those two years. The Purple Eagles defeated Florida A & M in a 2007 play-in game but lost to Kansas in its next game. Niagara played in the CIT in 2018, losing its first tournament game.

All-Time Records

Points Scored

  • Calvin Murphy, 2,548
  • Juan Mendez, 2,210
  • Antoine Mason, 1,934


  • Alex Ellis, 1,533
  • Manny Leaks, 1,087
  • Juan Mendez,1,053


  • Anthony Nelson, 647
  • Alvin Cruz, 630
  • Gary Bossert, 498


How Many All-Americans Have Niagara Had?

Calvin Murphy is the only Niagara player to earn Associated Press First-Team All-American, which he did in the 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons. Murphy was a second-team selection in 1967-68. Both Juan Mendiz (2004-05) and Kahlil Dukes (2017-18) received an All-American honorable mention.

How Many NBA Coaches Played at Niagara University?

Niagara turned out some pretty solid NBA coaches, as former Utah Jazz coach Frank Layden and Hubie Brown were roommates while playing for Niagara in the 1950s. Former Milwaukee Bucks coach Larry Costello also played for the Purple Eagles and enjoyed a solid NBA career before coaching, where he led the Bucks to the 1970-71 championship. Brown and Costello are both in the Hall of Fame.

Who Scored the Most Points for Niagara in a Basketball Game?

The obvious answer of Calvin Murphy is correct in this case. Murphy is the all-time leader in Niagara team stats in nearly every scoring category. His 68 points against Syracuse on December 7th, 1968 is the school record. Murphy was such a dominant player in college, he holds down the top 10 spots on Niagara’s single-game scoring record list.

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