GAME NOTES: Niagara is off to its best start in the Metro Atlantic Athletic
Conference in 14 years. Manhattan is headed in the opposite direction with
losses in three of its last four games. The two teams will meet on Saturday
afternoon, as the Purple Eagles attempt to log their fourth straight triumph.
Niagara has won six straight conference games, including Thursday night's
87-64 rout of Siena. The Purple Eagles made a season-best 54.2 percent of
their shots from the field, including half of their 3-point attempts. It was
Niagara's largest margin of victory over a MAAC foe since an 88-64 rout of
Manhattan on Dec. 4, 2009.
The 6-1 conference start by the Purple Eagles is their best since going 8-1 to
begin league play in 1998-99. Leading the way for Niagara is Antoine Mason,
who is third in the MAAC in scoring with 18.6 ppg. He has posted double
figures in 25 straight games. Juan'ya Green is next at 16.7 ppg, and Ameen
Tanksley is third with 10.5 ppg and also leads the team with 5.8 rpg. The
Purple Eagles lead the conference in steals per game (8.2), and are also
second in scoring at 74.8 ppg.
Mason scored a game-high 23 points, leading five players in double figures, in
the Siena contest. Green stepped up with 21 points, eight assists and three
steals. T.J. Cline contributed 13 points, while Tanksley and Marvin Jordan
chipped in with 10 points apiece.
As for the Jaspers, they are coming off a 64-60 loss at Canisius. Shane
Richards matched a career-high with 18 points on 6-of-9 accuracy from behind
the arc. Michael Alvarado also scored 18 points, and Rhamel Brown pitched in
10 points and seven rebounds before fouling out. Brown leads the team with
12.2 ppg and leads the MAAC with 2.7 blocks per game. Manhattan ranks fourth
in the MAAC for scoring defense, giving up 62 ppg to league foes. The Jaspers
are third with 4.6 blocks per game and average 6.6 3-point field goals per
outing in conference play.
Niagara has beaten Manhattan in 11 of the last 15 encounters, including six of
eight at the Gallagher Center. There's little reason to believe the Jaspers
can overcome Niagara's lightning start at home this season.