Iona (14-8) at Canisius (16-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, February 9, 2 p.m. (ET)
ACTS & STATS: Site: Koessler Athletic Center (2,176) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Iona 8-2, Canisius 8-1. Away Record: Iona 6-6, Canisius 6-5. Neutral Record: Iona 0-0, Canisius 2-1. Conference Record: Iona 11-2, Canisius 10-3. Series Record: Iona leads, 33-29.
GAME NOTES: The Iona Gaels pay a visit to the Canisius Golden Griffins in a battle of the top two teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
A.J. English drained a 3-pointer with eight seconds to play to lift Iona to a thrilling 90-89 victory over Niagara on Friday night. The win was the sixth straight for the Gaels, who ascended to the top of the MAAC with the victory (11-2) coupled with a loss by Canisius. The Gaels, who are 14-8 overall, will return home to take on Saint Peter's and Monmouth next.
The Golden Griffins fell into second place on Friday, as they dropped an 84-73 decision to third-place Manhattan. The setback ended a four-game win streak for Canisius, which is still an impressive 16-8 overall and 10-3 against the rest of the MAAC. A road trip to face Niagara and Siena is next on the schedule.
These two teams, which are currently the favorites to claim the MAAC crown, certainly looked evenly matched when they met earlier this season. Bill Baron sank a pair of free-throws with 14 seconds to play, which pushed Canisius to an 85-83 victory over Iona. The victory was the second in the last three meetings for Golden Griffins, who still trail in the all-time series, 33-29.
With 2:02 to play Iona trailed by seven points against Niagara. However, Sean Armand scored five quick points and then English got his 3-pointer to fall in the final seconds to allow Iona to escape. Armand finished with 22 points, but it was David Laury and his 28 points that led the squad to victory.
Iona plays at an incredible pace on offense, which has helped it put forth some staggering numbers. The Gaels lead the MAAC and rank among the top 20 in the country in scoring (83.9 ppg), assists (17.7 apg) and field goal percentage (.485). The rapid pace has led to some less-than-stellar defensive efforts, with teams netting 78.7 ppg against the Gaels. Armand (18.6 ppg) and English (17.3 ppg, 4.1 apg) are two of a group of five players scoring in double figures for Iona, with Laury (13.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg), Tre Bowman (12.8 ppg) and Isaiah Williams (10.1 ppg) all pitching in as well.
Canisius could not put together enough stops to put down Manhattan. The Golden Griffins allowed the Jaspers to shoot at a 51.7 percent clip from the field, while turning in a 40.6 percent effort themselves. Baron once again led the way with 22 points and seven rebounds to go with as many assists.
Baron (23.6 ppg, 4.8 apg) seems to be well on his way to all-conference honors, as he is one of the most productive guards in the league. He is second in the league in both scoring and assists, while tied for third in steals (1.6 spg). His 22-point effort against Manhattan was his 11th 20-point showing in the last 12 games. Baron has not been alone this season, with Chris Perez (11.2 ppg), Jordan Heath (10.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Zach Lewis (10 ppg) all providing alternative scoring options. In total, the Griffs are second in the league in field goal percentage (.457), while putting up a healthy 77.1 ppg.
Friday night's loss was the first home defeat for Canisius this season. Expect the Golden Griffins to be geared up for Iona, and for Baron to help them shoot past the high-flying Gaels.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Canisius 80, Iona 77
02/09 10:16:37 ET