Canisius (14-7) at Quinnipiac (12-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 30, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: TD Bank Sports Center (3,570) -- Hamden, Connecticut. Television: SNY. Home Record: Canisius 8-0, Quinnipiac 7-1. Away Record: Canisius 4-6, Quinnipiac 4-6. Neutral Record: Canisius 2-1, Quinnipiac 1-0. Conference Record: Canisius 8-2, Quinnipiac 7-3. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Both the Canisius Golden Griffins and the Quinnipiac Bobcats will attempt to build off wins in their latest contests when the squads meet up at the TD Bank Sports Center on Thursday night in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action.
Canisius has won back-to-back games over Niagara (87-74) and most recently versus Marist on Sunday (78-65) to improve to 8-2 in the MAAC, tied with Iona for first place. The Griffs are an impressive 14-7 overall this season but have only managed to win four of 10 road games.
Quinnipiac also earned a win on Sunday afternoon, outlasting Manhattan on the road in overtime, 90-86, for its third victory in the past four contests. The Bobcats fall just a step behind Canisius this season, sporting a 12-7 record and a 7-3 mark in conference play.
This being Quinnipiac's first season in the MAAC, these teams have never before played one another.
After finding themselves down by nine early in the first half their last time out, the Griffs closed the opening stanza on a furious run to take a 14-point lead into intermission and cruised from there for the home victory over Marist, shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 24-of-28 from the free-throw line in the process. Billy Baron's outstanding season continued with a career- high-tying 38 points on 12-of-23 from the field and 9-of-10 at the line. Chris Manhertz tallied 13 points and nine rebounds, while Chris Perez and Zach Lewis put up 14 and 10 points, respectively.
On the season, Canisius shoots just shy of 46 percent from the field for 76.6 ppg, which is enough to support its rather lackluster scoring defense (73.8 ppg). Baron is the nation's third-leading scorer with 24.2 ppg, doing so on excellent percentages from 3-point range (.455) and the free-throw line (.910) while adding 4.9 rpg, 4.9 apg and 1.6 spg for good measure. Perez (11.4 ppg), Jordan Heath (10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg) and Lewis (9.4 ppg) are solid complimentary options.
The Bobcats tied the game and forced overtime in the final minute of regulation on a pair of Umar Shannon free throws, and they made the first basket of the extra session and never looked back en route to the four-point victory. Although they shot a modest 43.8 percent from the field and were held back by a game-high 19 turnovers, they earned a 51-38 rebounding advantage and outscored Manhattan at the stripe. 29-21. Shannon and Zaid Hearst paced the effort with 25 points apiece, with Hearst adding 10 rebounds. Ike Azotam (21 points, 13 rebounds) also tallied a double-double, while Evan Conti had 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Quinnipiac's rebounding margin this season (+12.8) is the nation's best, which helps it score a lofty 77.9 ppg despite shooting only 40.8 percent from the field. Azotam leads the team with 16.6 ppg and is also the nation's third- leading rebounder (11.7 rpg). Ousmane Drame (12.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg) has missed two straight games, but the team still has plenty of fire power with Shannon (14.1 ppg) and Hearst (13.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg).
These teams appear to be well matched and should be in for a close bout from wire-to-wire, but with Quinnipiac's stellar home record (7-1) paired up against the Griffs' road struggles, expect the Bobcats to come away victorious.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Quinnipiac 78, Canisius 75
01/30 10:35:35 ET