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Rider (16-13) at Niagara (17-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 28, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Taps' Gallagher Center (2,100) -- Niagara, New York. Television: TWCS. Home Record: RU 9-5, NU 10-3. Away Record: RU 5-8, NU 7-7. Neutral Record: RU 2-0, NU 0-1. Conference Record: RU 10-6, NU 12-4. Series Record: Niagara leads 20-16. .
GAME NOTES: The Niagara Purple Eagles will seek revenge from a loss earlier this month when they host the Rider Broncs at the Taps' Gallagher Center in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play on Thursday night.
The Broncs are coming off a 61-54 win over Charleston Southern. It was their third consecutive win and fourth in the last five games. This will be the first of a two-game road swing to close out the regular season for Rider with Canisius coming next. With Rider's strong play of late, the team sits tied for third in the conference standings, just two games out of first place at 10-6
Niagara is fresh off a 92-76 win over Northwestern State. A 61-point second half from the Purple Eagles was the highest scoring half for Niagara since 2004 when the team managed 63 against St. Bonaventure. It was the third consecutive win for the squad following a three-game slump. This is the second of a current three-game homestand for the Purple Eagles to end the regular season. The Purple Eagles hold a one game lead over Loyola-Maryland for the top spot in the conference with a stellar 12-4 league ledger.
Niagara leads the all-time series 20-16 but it was the Broncs who earned a 72-69 win earlier this month despite a career-high 29-point performance from Ameen Tanksley for Niagara. The Purple Aces were also without their key player, Antoine Mason, who missed four games before returning in the last competition.
Jonathon Thompson scored 15 points for the Broncs in the win over Charleston Southern. Junior Fortunat was perfect from everywhere, going 5-of-5 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line, finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds. Daniel Stewart was the squad's top rebounder with 10 boards.
Anthony Miles leads the team in scoring this season with 12.6 ppg despite shooting below 40.0 percent from the floor. Thompson follows just behind him with 12.5 ppg but is much more efficient, shooting nearly 50.0 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from 3-point range. Stewart is the third and final Bronc averaging double-figure scoring with 11.0 ppg, while leading the team in rebounding with 7.2 per game.
In the win over Northwestern State, Mason and Juan'ya Green scored 20 points each, while Green dished out a game-high seven assists with three steals. Tanksley and T.J. Cline added 12 points each, while Marvin Jordan had 11.
Mason leads the Purple Eagles in scoring with 18.9 ppg this season, shooting over 45.0 percent from the field. Green adds 16.8 ppg and Tanksley contributes 11.2 ppg. With no players averaging more than 6.0 rpg, Tanksley is the team's leader on the boards with 5.9 rpg. The Purple Eagles put up nearly 75.0 ppg but also allow more than 72.0 ppg.
Niagara is 10-3 at home and a much better offensive unit than the Broncs. With the homecourt advantage and with their top scorer back in Mason, the Purple Eagles should earn the win here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Niagara 76, Rider 70
02/28 10:35:30 ET