DATE & TIME: Friday, February 24th, 8:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Yanitelli Center (3,200) -- Jersey City, New Jersey. Television: None. Home Record: Niagara 7-7, Saint Peter's 3-9. Away Record: Niagara 4-9, Saint Peter's 2-12. Neutral Record: Niagara 1-1, Saint Peter's 0-2. Conference Record: Niagara 7-9, Saint Peter's 4-12. Series Record: Niagara leads, 43-28.
GAME NOTES: Losers of five in a row, the Saint Peter's Peacocks play their final home game of the 2011-12 regular season tonight, as they host the Niagara Purple Eagles in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action.
Saint Peter's, which is tied with Canisius for the fewest overall wins by a member of the MAAC with a mere five, bowed to Hartford last weekend in a non- conference matchup, 67-51. With the defeat, the Peacocks have now lost nine of their last two outings and of their four conference wins this season, half have come against a Canisius program which is a mere 1-15 in league play.
As for the Purple Eagles, they are shooting for their first season sweep of Saint Peter's since 2008-09, but just like the Peacocks the team was taken down in non-conference play last weekend. Despite having won three straight MAAC decisions, Niagara matched up with Vermont on the road last Saturday and was dealt a 92-70 setback.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Purple Eagles are ahead by a count of 43-28, thanks in part to an 85-73 win at home in the first meeting of the season last month.
Niagara was crushed on the glass, 42-22, by Vermont and allowed the hosts to shoot 55.2 percent from the floor in their meeting last weekend, so it was easy to see why the visitors took such a hard fall. Antoine Mason tried to keep it interesting by scoring a team-best 20 points, followed by Malcolm Lemmons and Juan'ya Green with 17 and 12 points, respectively. A starter in every game this season, Green is third in the nation in scoring among freshmen with his 16.9 ppg. At the same time, he is also third in the MAAC in scoring among all players and his assists per game have him third in the league as well. Mason is responsible for another 15.2 ppg, although his mere 26.5 percent accuracy behind the three-point line has been less than encouraging and is a major reason why the team as a whole is converting just 32.5 percent out on the perimeter.
If not for the 20-point performance by Darius Conley, the recent loss to Hartford would have been even uglier for the Peacocks. Conley shot 8-of-12 form the field and cleared nine rebounds, more than half the team's meager total of just 17 boards, so it is easier to overlook his five turnovers since he was the only one putting in a full day's work. Beyond Conley, no one else on the team made more than a pair of field goals as the group shot 41.7 percent from the floor. More disappointing was the unit's 4-of-16 showing beyond the arc and feeble 7-of-17 performance at the free-throw line. One of the lowest-scoring teams in the nation, the Peacocks are generating just 58.0 ppg this year, the team suffering greatly at the free-throw line where they have been just 64.2 percent accurate. Conley is responsible for 11.4 ppg, followed by Chris Prescott with 10.6 ppg.
Both of these teams are coming off lopsided, non-conference setbacks and even though the Peacocks are at home, Niagara is still the one with more offensive firepower so expect the Purple Eagles to fly high in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Niagara 74, Saint Peter's 65
02/24 10:35:55 ET
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