Canisius (16-9) at Niagara (6-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, February 14, 9 p.m. (ET)
ACTS & STATS: Site: Gallagher Center (2,400) -- Niagara, New York. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Canisius 8-2, Niagara 4-6. Away Record: Canisius 5-6, Niagara 1-11. Neutral Record: Canisius 3-1, Niagara 1-2. Conference Record: Canisius 10-4, Niagara 3-11. Series Record: Niagara leads, 100-75.
GAME NOTES: Long-time rivals collide in a Friday night tilt, as the Canisius Golden Eagles visit the Niagara Purples Eagles in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at the Gallagher Center.
Canisius is in need of a victory, after falling to two of its main competitors for the MAAC title, with losses to Manhattan (84-73) and Iona (101-91) in its last two bouts. The Golden Griffins still own a solid 16-9 overall mark and are tied with the Jaspers and Quinnipiac in the league standings (10-4). They will visit Siena next.
Niagara has had very little success this season, with six wins in 25 total games and a 3-11 success rate against the rest of the MAAC. The Purple Eagles have lost four straight, although their last two setback against Iona (90-89) and Manhattan (78-77) have each come by a single point. They get a rematch with the Jaspers in their next contest.
When these squads squared off on Jan. 22, Canisius captured an 87-74 victory at home. The Golden Griffins have won the last two bouts with the rival Purple Eagles, but Niagara leads the all-time series, 100-75.
Chris Perez scored 25 points and Billy Baron contributed 24, but Canisius fell short in its offensive marathon with Iona. The Golden Griffins were outscored from 3-point range (39-27) and at the free-throw line (26-16), while letting the Gaels knock down 51.7 percent from the floor in the second period.
Canisius is capable of winning shootouts, as it has plenty of firepower on the roster. The Golden Griffins are third in the MAAC in scoring (77.7 ppg) and second in field goal percentage (.458). The most explosive scorer is Baron (23.6 ppg, 4.9 apg). He is second in the league in both scoring and assists and has had at least 20 points in 12 of the last 13 games. Perez (11.7 ppg) and Jordan Heath (10.6 ppg) lend their support as the next-best scoring options. Heath finished with 16 points and nine rebounds in the loss to Iona.
Niagara came up just short in a back-and-forth affair against Manhattan. The Purple Eagles connected on 46.4 percent of their shots from the floor, while allowing a 49 percent effort to their opponents. Antoine Mason poured in 33 points in the losing effort.
Mason (26.3 ppg) is the only player in the MAAC scoring better than Baron this season. However, Mason also holds an even more impressive superlative, as he is the leading scorer in the country. Whereas a 30-point performance is a rare occurrence for even some of the best scorers, Mason has had 10 such efforts this season, although the one against Manhattan was the first since Jan. 2. Mason almost single-handedly carries the team on offense, as Marvin Jordan (9.9 ppg) is the next best scorer, shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor. As a team, the Purple Eagles are scoring 76.7 ppg, but they let up 83 ppg on 48.8 percent shooting.
The duel between Baron and Mason will be fun to watch. However, Canisius' leading scorer has receives more support, which will prove to be the difference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Canisius 81, Niagara 75
02/14 10:41:22 ET