Monmouth (8-8) at Canisius (10-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, January 12, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Koessler Athletic Center (2,176) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Monmouth 5-4, Canisius 5-0. Away Record: Monmouth 3-4, Canisius 3-5. Neutral Record: Monmouth 0-0, Canisius 2-1. Conference Record: Monmouth 2-3, Canisius 4-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Monmouth Hawks continue their three-game road swing on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Canisius Golden Griffins in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference bout at the Koessler Athletic Center.
Monmouth began its road trip on Friday night at Niagara, where it came away with an 85-74 triumph to improve to 2-3 in league action. The Hawks have won five of their last seven games to reach the .500 mark on the season.
Canisius suffered its first MAAC loss of the season at Marist on Jan. 6 (65-62) but bounced back nicely on Friday night versus Rider by winning a 94-91 double-overtime thriller. The Griffs are 10-6 overall this season and at 4-1 in conference action are locked in a four-way tie for first place with Manhattan, Quinnipiac and Iona.
This marks the first-ever meeting on the hardwood between these newly- acquainted conference rivals.
The Hawks used a red-hot shooting night in their most recent 11-point win, as they shot a lofty 62.8 percent from the field while adding a 26-of-33 showing from the foul line and held Niagara to just 36.5 percent shooting. Deon Jones and Andrew Nicholas led the way by scoring 14 points apiece, and Justin Robinson and Chris Brady each poured in 13 points. Rounding out the balanced effort was Zac Tillman, Josh James and Max DiLeo, all of whom scored nine points.
On the season, Monmouth shoots a lackluster 41.9 percent from the field for 71.9 ppg, while being outpaced by its opponents (.432, 72.8 ppg). It's sometimes able to even the playing field with a strong turnover margin (+1.9). Jones puts up 15.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 1.5 spg and has been active and accurate from the free-throw line (95-of-118). Nicholas is the only other player to average in double figures with 13.7 ppg, although he does so on a disappointing field goal percentage (.361).
The Griffs were in position to win their latest contest in regulation up by three in the final minute, but they fell victim to a three-point play that sent the game to overtime. After battling for two extra sessions, they finished on top when Billy Baron drained the game-winning 3-pointer in the waning seconds. The heroic bucket was the icing on the cake for Baron, who scored a career-high 38 points on 11-of-19 from the floor and 12-of-13 from the free-throw line while adding seven rebounds and seven assists for good measure. Jordan Heath was also a game-changer with 17 points and nine blocks, and Zach Lewis and Phil Valenti netted 12 points apiece.
Despite getting outshot by its opponents this season, 45.7 percent to 44.6 percent, Canisius still boasts positive margins in both scoring (+0.8) and turnover (+2.1), although it does consistently lose out on the rebounding battle (-3.9). Baron's excellence against Rider was hardly a surprise, as he ranks sixth in the nation in scoring with 22.7 ppg and shows great balance with 4.8 rpg, 4.8 apg and 1.4 spg. Heath (11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg) shoots 55.5 percent from the field and swats away 2.5 bpg. Chris Perez rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.3 ppg.
Monmouth has shown an ability to overcome its road surroundings this season (3-4), but playing the first-place Griffins who have yet to lose at home will be a tough obstacle for the Hawks to overcome.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Canisius 77, Monmouth 70
01/12 10:22:23 ET