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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 4:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: MassMutual Center (7,552) -- Springfield, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Canisius 11-3, Iona 11-1. Away Record: Canisius 7-9, Iona 5-9. Neutral Record: Canisius 0-0, Iona 1-3. Conference Record: Canisius 11-7, Iona 11-7. Series Record: Iona leads, 32-28.
GAME NOTES: Two teams with identical Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference records during the regular season get together for the quarterfinals of the postseason tournament on Saturday afternoon, as the Canisius Golden Griffins meet up with the Iona Gaels at the MassMutual Center.
The fourth-seeded Gaels own the most conference tournament titles among current members of the MAAC with seven, the most recent of those coming in 2006 against Saint Peter's. Iona has a record of 37-24 in the event which is now in its 32nd edition. The Gaels come into the postseason off a pair of wins, the most recent coming against Siena last Sunday, 80-61.
As for the fifth-seeded Golden Griffins, they enjoyed unparalleled success at home this season with 11 wins in 14 opportunities, although the team did bow to Rider in the finale at the Koessler Center last weekend, 65-61. Sporting a record of 22-22 in the tourney overall, Canisius is seeking the crown for just the second time in program history.
The teams split a pair of regular-season meetings this year, with each winning on its home floor, which means the all-time series now stands at 32-28 in favor of the Gaels.
The winner of this contest will move on to the semifinals on Sunday where it will compete against the survivor of the Siena/Niagara battle for the right to go to the title game on Monday night.
The Griffins were the model of inconsistency over the last month of action, alternating wins and loses through the final eight games. Part of the issue is that Canisius relies so heavily on the starting five and gets very little out of the reserves this season, then again you can't really go wrong with a player like Billy Baron who led the team not only in scoring (16.6 ppg) but assists (152) as well while being named to the All-MAAC First Team. Harold Washington and Isaac Sosa supply added scoring punch with 13.7 and 12.1 ppg, respectively, but if this team expects to be moving on after Saturday they need to get more players involved in the action.
As one of the top scoring teams in the nation this season at 81.2 ppg, Iona might be a handful for the Griffs who have clearly had trouble putting together consistent efforts of late. Headed by Lamont Jones, the leading scorer in the MAAC with a staggering 23.2 ppg, the team is poised for big things and it doesn't hurt that Jones, an All-MAAC First-Team selection and the MAAC Player of the Year, is also first on the unit with 107 assists over the course of 30 games either. Many of those dishes went to Sean Armand (Second Team All-MAAC) who was one of the nation's top 3-point threats with his 101 connections from long range, en route to an average of 16.8 ppg.
Trying to slow down Jones has been a tough task for almost every team the Gaels have faced this season, but maybe a third crack for Canisius will pay off in that regard. However, should the Griffs figure it out, they still have to deal with the rest of the Iona roster.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 84, Canisius 72
03/09 10:35:39 ET
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