GAMES NOTES: In a battle of squads from Western New York the Niagara Purple
Eagles will face the rival Buffalo Bulls in non-conference action at Alumni
Niagara found itself on the better end of a 62-61 win against Loyola-Maryland
in its last outing. The thrilling victory ended a three-game losing streak for
the Purple Eagles who are just 3-5 overall this season. The win was also the
first triumph in four tries for Niagara on the road. Niagara will be at home
in its next two contests with a matchup against Hartford up first.
The Bulls also earned a win in their last outing by routing Milwaukee 72-52 on
the road. Buffalo had lost two straight and five of its previous six before
the easy victory. Buffalo is just 3-7 overall this season and has yet to earn
a win on its home floor against a Division I opponent. The only home victory
came against Division II Mansfield. The Bulls will be off until December 21
when they take a trip out west to face Washington State.
There are less than 30 miles separating these schools which have faced off 88
times previously. Buffalo has won the last three straight, but it is Niagara
that owns the 58-30 series lead.
It was a nip and tuck affair between Niagara and Loyola. However the Purple
Eagles did not trail in the second half, leading by as many as 10 points, and
despite a last second 3-pointer from Anthony Winbush the Eagles held on for
the win. Niagara shot at a 44.0 percent clip in the game including a 5-of-15
effort from beyond the arc. The Eagles could have made it easier on themselves
if they could have hit their free throws, but they knocked down only 13-of-24.
Juan'ya Green led the charge with 19 points and five assists.
It has not been the offensive side of the ball that has troubled Niagara this
season. The Purple Eagles have surrendered 79.0 points per game, while
opponents shoot 47.4 percent from the field. That has negated whatever success
the Purple Eagles have on offense as they score 74.9 points per game. Niagara
has also been on the wrong end in rebounding as well with a -2.7 deficit on
the boards. Green (15.8 ppg, 5.1 apg) is one of the better guards running the
court in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and is more than capable of
taking games over with his scoring and distribution. However it is Green's
running mate Antoine Mason who has been the more spectacular scorer. Mason
(18.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg) has scored in double figures in every game this year and
has erupted for 24 or more points three times. Tanksley (10.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is
another contributor out of the backcourt. However, there isn't a great deal of
depth on the roster with only five players scoring more than four points per
Although the Bulls only had three free-throw attempts against Milwaukee,
Buffalo still managed to coast to victory by knocking down 55.9 percent of
its shots on the road. Buffalo also dominated on the boards with a 47-23
edge in rebounds. That helped the Bulls overcome 17 turnovers which was 10
more than the team forced. Javon McCrea was spectacular in the win with 31
points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, although he did turn the ball over seven
When Mid-American Conference Player of the Year Mitchell Watt graduated last
season the Bulls became McCrea's team. The junior forward has taken those
responsibilities to heart as he is leading the team in scoring (17.7 ppg) and
rebounding (6.7 rpg), while swatting away 2.2 shots per game. McCrea hasn't
just forced up shots either as he connects on 55.6 percent of his field goal
attempts. There are no other players on the roster scoring in double figures
this season for Buffalo. Jarod Oldham (9.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.1 apg) has the
potential to do so but needs to improve on his shooting (38.2 FG percentage).
Buffalo has suffered a -2.6 scoring margin, while netting 62.4 points per
game. Thanks to McCrea the Bulls have been able to take control of the glass
with a +6.4 edge in rebounds, while leading the MAC (36.8 rpg).
These teams have quite different makeups with Niagara excelling in the
backcourt and Buffalo preferring to bang inside with McCrea. The Purple Eagles
don't have the frontcourt depth to deal with McCrea but have plenty of
offensive firepower in the wings to keep the game tight.