Niagara (1-4) at Penn (1-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 26, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Palestra (8,722) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: Niagara 1-0, Penn 0-2. Away Record: Niagara 0-2, Penn 1-1. Neutral Record: Niagara 0-2, Penn 0-0. Conference Record: Niagara 0-0, Penn 0-0. Series Record: Niagara leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: The Penn Quakers set out to win their first game at home this season, as they welcome the Niagara Purple Eagles to the Palestra on Tuesday night for non-conference action.
Jerome Allen's Quakers have struggled in the early stages of the season, winning just once in four outings. The team comes into this contest off back- to-back losses to Big Ten foes Penn State (83-71) and most recently, Iowa (86-55). Penn is 0-2 thus far at the Palestra.
Chris Casey is in his first season at the helm at Niagara. His tenure has not gotten off to a rousing start, as the Purple Eagles are just 1-4 out of the game. The team enters this contest with a three-game skid in tow, including a 102-97 shootout loss at Kent State this past weekend.
Niagara has won all three previous meetings with Penn, but this is the first matchup since the 1986-87 season.
Niagara hasn't had much success in the win column early on, but it is certainly isn't because of a lack of offense from junior guard Antoine Mason. The veteran leads the nation in scoring at an impressive 31.4 ppg. He has made more field goals (51) than any other player on the team has attempted and is shooting 50 percent from the floor overall. Freshman Ramone Snowden is a distant second in the scoring column at 12.6 ppg and serves as the team's top rebounder (7.8 rpg). The Purple Eagles are the top scoring team in the MAAC this year (85.0 ppg), but have struggled at the other end, allowing an alarming 89.4 ppg, with foes shooting .504 from the field.
The 97 points against Kent State should have been enough to earn a victory, but once again the Purple Eagles were a turn-style at the other end in what turned out to be a five-point loss. Mason was once again the top player for Niagara, converting 12-of-20 shots en route to a game-high 31 points. Snowden provided a strong complement with 21 points and eight rebounds, while Rayvon Harris posted 10 points in 15 minutes off the bench.
Penn doesn't have the luxury of a scorer the caliber of Mason, but then again, not many teams do. The Quakers aren't a prolific scoring team anyway, averaging just 69.5 ppg on a modest .421 shooting. Compounding the problem has been shoddy defensive play, with opponents putting up 80.0 ppg. The Quakers also are suffering from a -7.0 rebounding margin and are averaging over 17 turnovers per game. Darien Nelson-Henry and Tony Hicks have been a solid one- two punch thus far, averaging 16.8 and 16.3 ppg, respectively. Nelson-Henry also leads the team in rebounding (8.0 rpg). Miles Cartwright rounds out the team's top threats at the offensive end at 12.3 ppg.
The Quakers were not match for the Hawkeyes in Iowa City last week in a lopsided affair. Penn shot just .362 from the floor in the 31-point loss, including an ugly 3-of-23 effort from behind the arc (.130). Nelson-Henry led the team with 13 points. Hicks finished with 10 points and five assists, but was guilty of six turnovers. In all, Penn committed 25 turnovers, resulting in 30 points for Iowa.
Mason will be the difference in this game, as Penn simply lacks the personnel to counter.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Niagara 77, Penn 69
11/26 10:35:39 ET