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1969-70 Niagara men’s basketball team to be inducted into Niagara Athletics Hall of Fame

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS


NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- The 1969-70 Niagara University men's basketball team will be inducted into the Niagara University Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2018. The date of the event, as well as the rest of the Class of 2018, will be announced at a later date.

"Niagara University has a proud and storied tradition in men's basketball, but earning the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament bid is a legacy building accomplishment," said Niagara University Director of Athletics Simon Gray.  "I have had the privilege to talk with members of the team and their love for their University is palpable.  During those conversations, joining the excitement of their enshrinement in the Niagara Athletics Hall of Fame, was an immediate recollection of the incredible bond that this team shared.  We are excited to welcome them home and present them with an honor that they richly deserve."

The 1969-70 Purple Eagles made history, becoming the first-ever program to play in the NCAA Tournament. The Purple Eagles, who were coached by Frank Layden and led by tri-captains Calvin Murphy, Mike Brown, and Bob Churchwell, finished with a 22-7 record for the program's first 20-win season in 12 years. Niagara opened its campaign winning 11 straight games, which is a program record, including defeating No. 6 Tennessee in December 1969 en route to winning the All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

The Purple Eagles qualified as an at-large selection in the 25-team field and played in the NCAA East Region in Princeton, New Jersey. Behind All-American Calvin Murphy's 35 points, Niagara advanced to the NCAA East Region semifinals with a 79-69 victory over seventh-ranked Pennsylvania in the first round. The Purple Eagles were defeated by Villanova in the NCAA East Regional Semifinals in Columbia, South Carolina. Niagara finished fourth in the region after falling to North Carolina State in the consolation game.

Niagara, which was ranked as high as 12th in the nation during the season, finished its campaign ranked 17th in both the Associated Press (AP) and the United Press International (UPI) polls.

Eight members from the 1969-70 team have previously been inducted into the Niagara University Athletics Hall of Fame – Mike Brown, Bob Churchwell, Calvin Murphy, Steve Schafer, Marshall Wingate, Frank Layden (head coach), Mike Gormley (athletic trainer), and Dr. Alphonso Bax (team physician).  
Niagara University Athletics celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1969-70 team during the 2009-10 men's basketball home opener in a game played at 8 a.m. and broadcasted nationally on ESPN.