Niagara (1-2) vs. Western Carolina (3-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 22, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: M.A.C. Center (6,327) -- Kent, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: Niagara 1-0, WCU 2-0. Away Record: Niagara 0-1, WCU 1-3. Neutral Record: Niagara 0-1, WCU 0-0. Conference Record: Niagara 0-0, WCU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The first-ever meeting between Niagara and Western Carolina finds the team competing in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the MAC Center in Ohio today.
The Catamounts, members of the Southern Conference, had snapped a two-game slide with their 68-63 victory against Liberty on the road last weekend, but the team then suffered a 72-59 setback at the hands of the Kent State Golden Flashes here on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day on Thursday the Purple Eagles also took a tumble as they fell to USC Upstate in an 83-74 final. For Niagara the setback was the second in three outings to tip off 2013-14.
Both squad will again be back in action on Saturday in this event as the Catamounts go up against USC Upstate and Niagara battles host Kent State.
The Purple Eagles buried themselves in the first half of yesterday's contest, connecting on only eight field goals and missing all nine chances behind the 3-point line. In fact, Niagara had more turnovers (nine) than made baskets in the period, all while the Spartans were converting 8-of-14 beyond the arc alone. Needless to say, the 47-28 deficit at the break was too much for the Purple Eagles to handle, even as Antoine Mason led all scorers with 31 points. Marvin Jordan pitched in with 11 points in 22 minutes as well.
Mason paces the program in scoring with a massive 30.0 ppg, but considering he has taken more than twice as many field goal attempts as anyone else on the roster, that should be expected. Mason is the only player in double figures for a program that is putting up 79.3 ppg, but again is one of the weakest defenses in the land with 82.3 ppg allowed.
Holding Kent State to a mere eight field goals in the first half yesterday, empty on eight opportunities beyond the arc, the Catamounts should have been in a good position to come up with a potential victory against the hosts, but that just wasn't the case. In fact, WCU made only nine baskets through the first 20 minutes of action and shot 36.1 percent for the game, en route to the double-digit defeat. Tawaski King came up with 17 points and nine rebounds for the visitors, followed by Brandon Boggs with 12 as the duo combined for 13 of the team's 22 field goals.
WCU has had a different leading scorer in each of the last four outings, but overall the top spot is still owned by Trey Sumler with 13.0 ppg, although he has already missed a pair of games and is shooting just 36.7 percent from the field. James Sinclair (11.8 ppg) and Tom Tankelewicz (11.3 ppg) are key figures on offense as well, with the former leading the way with 17 assists and 14 steals, while the latter shoots 40.6 percent from 3-point range.
Until the Purple Eagles can get a handle on slowing opponents down the team will continue to have difficulty getting into the win column no matter who the opponent. Having little more than Mason as a scoring threat doesn't help on the other end either, in fact it makes it easier for the Catamounts today when they settle in on defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Carolina 77, Niagara 74
11/22 10:40:27 ET