GAME NOTES: The Niagara Purple Eagles hope to keep control of sole possession
of first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings as they
visit Draddy Gymnasium for a clash with the Manhattan Jaspers.
Niagara will be looking to complete the season series sweep of the Jaspers
after it defeated Manhattan, 64-60, at home in the inaugural meeting of
2012-13. The victory gave the Purple Eagles a 21-15 all-time record versus
Manhattan. Antoine Mason tallied 15 points for Niagara in the Jan. 19 matchup,
but he is listed as questionable for Sunday due to an ankle injury.
The Purple Eagles snapped a three-game losing streak on Friday with a 57-54
win at Marist. The victory helped Niagara arrive at a 15-11 overall record
including its 11-4 mark in MAAC play, which is just a half-game better than
the Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds' second place standing. Mason paces the team
with 18.9 ppg, but the Purple Eagles will have a pair of solid scoring options
in Juan'ya Green (16.7 ppg, 5.0 apg) and Ameen Tanksley (11.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg) to
turn to if he is unable to play.
Producing points has not been a problem for Niagara this season, but stopping
the opposition has been an issue. The Purple Eagles are scoring the second
most points per game (74.2) among MAAC teams, but surrendering nearly as many
at 72.7 points a contest. The team's win over Marist was an unusually low-
scoring affair as both squads limited their possessions by committing 19
turnovers each. Green scored a game-high 20 points, including the game-winning
3-pointer in the closing seconds, Marvin Jordan chipped in 10 points and
Tahjere McCall brought in nine rebounds.
Niagara will have a tough test awaiting at Draddy Gymnasium as Manhattan is
coming off a 74-73 overtime victory over Iona that gave the Jaspers their
fourth win in a row. Junior forward Rhamel Brown delivered a big time effort
posting 21 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocks while Emmy Andujar closed out
the contest with a game winning layup. Andujar and Shane Richards tallied 15
points apiece to help the Jaspers improve to 10-15 on the campaign and 8-7 in
Brown (12.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.1 bpg) has been the key piece for Manhattan on
both ends of the floor. The 6-foot-7 forward is the only player scoring in
double figures for Manhattan, while leading the MAAC in blocked shots. Michael
Alvarado (8.5 ppg) is the next best scoring option, although he shoots just
37.3 percent from the field. Despite the recent surge, the Jaspers are second
to last in the MAAC in scoring offense (59.1). They are however very good
defensively with only 61.8 points allowed points per tilt.
Manhattan has defeated four of the six schools ahead of it in the MAAC
standings already. The Purple Eagles have not been the same without Mason, but
they may be able to steal one on the road if Green manages the offense more
efficiently. The Jaspers may have trouble continuing their stellar play after
their hard-fought, emotional victory on Friday.