Loyola-Maryland (7-3) vs. Saint Peter's (4-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 8, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: IZOD Center (19,040) -- East Rutherford, New Jersey. Television: . Home Record: Loyola 3-1, SPC 2-2. Away Record: Loyola 2-2, SPC 2-2. Neutral Record: Loyola 2-0, SPC 0-0. Conference Record: Loyola 0-1, SPC 1-0. Series Record: Saint Peter's leads, 42-34.
GAME NOTES: The Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds and the Saint Peter's Peacocks meet up at IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Saturday afternoon in early-season Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action.
Loyola started the season a red-hot 7-1, which was highlighted by a win over Albany in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. Since then however, the Greyhounds have slipped with back-to-back losses, losing on the road at Florida Gulf Coast (65-50) and dropping a heartbreaker at home to Niagara on Wednesday, 62-61.
Saint Peter's also began the year on a high note with three-straight wins, including impressive road victories over Rutgers (58-52) and Cornell (68-64), but it followed that up with a four-game losing streak. The Peacocks bounced back nicely with a home conference win over Iona on Wednesday, 64-62.
This will be the 77th all-time meeting in the series between these two teams, with Saint Peter's holding a 42-34 advantage, although Loyola won both matchups during the 2011-12 season.
Loyola's fast start to the year is due in large part to its play at the defensive end of the floor, as it forces opponents into 39.4 percent field goal shooting and less than 60 ppg, which helps offset its lackluster performance from the field (.409, 65.3 ppg). The Greyhounds' struggles from the floor continued in their loss to Niagara, and although they came back from a 10-point deficit late to tie the contest with 1:41 left, it couldn't complete the comeback. Dylon Cormier continued his solid start to the season with 17 points on 6-of-11 from the field while also adding four assists. The junior has been one of the best guards in the conference, tallying 17.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.4 apg, and 1.9 spg. Erik Etherly has been a good inside complement to Cormier with 15.7 ppg and 8.0 rpg, and he has also been impressive at the defensive end with more than a block and a steal per game, but he has missed the last four games with an injury. Robert Olson (11.4 ppg) rounds out the Greyhounds' double-digit scorers.
The Peacocks' have gotten off to an unremarkable start shooting the ball this season, making 42.1 percent of their field goal attempts for 61.8 ppg, and their struggles continued in the first half against Iona by making just 7- of-27 from the field. Luckily they were able to get hot in the second half, making 51.5 percent of their field goal attempts after intermission to overcome a double-digit deficit. Blaise Ffrench shined in the win with 17 points, eight assists, five rebounds, two blocks, and two steals, and he sealed the comeback by breaking a 62-62 tie with a game-winning jumper in the waning seconds. Darius Conley also had a big game with 17 points and nine rebounds, and Desi Washington chipped in 15 assists. On the season, Washington paces Saint Peter's in scoring with 15.8 ppg, and he has drained more than half of the team's three-pointers (22-of-58). Ffrench contributes across the stat sheet with 13.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.3 apg, and 2.0 spg, and Yvon Raymond brings stability to the frontcourt with 10.3 ppg and 5.4 rpg.
Loyola has come back to Earth after a great start, and it will once again have its hands full against a Saint Peter's squad that is coming off a thrilling victory. It should be a close one throughout, but the Peacocks will prevail to move above the .500 mark.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Peter's 68, Loyola-Maryland 65
12/08 10:35:44 ET