Quinnipiac (18-8) at Niagara (6-22)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 22, 3 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gallagher Center (2,100) -- Niagara, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Quinnipiac 10-2, Niagara 4-8. Away Record: Quinnipiac 7-6, Niagara 1-12. Neutral Record: Quinnipiac 1-0, Niagara 1-2. Conference Record: Quinnipiac 13-4, Niagara 3-14. Series Record: Quinnipiac leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: Two teams at opposite ends of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings meet up this afternoon, as the struggling Niagara Purple Eagles host the surging Quinnipiac Bobcats at the Gallagher Center.
The Bobcats are coming off an 88-81 win on Thursday night at Canisius. The win was a crucial one for the Bobcats, as it puts some separation between the two teams in the league standings. Quinnipiac improved to 18-8 overall and 13-4 in league play, taking sole possession of second place with the win. Canisius fell to 12-5 in league play and to fourth place for the time being.
Umar Shannon finished with 26 points, three assists and two rebounds in his return, sparking the Bobcats on several occasions from long range. He went 4- of-6 from behind the arc, 8-of-16 from the field overall, and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.
Zaid Hearst added 21 points, which included a 17-of-18 showing from the charity stripe. Overall, the Bobcats went 31-of-36 at the foul line.
Ousmane Drame registered a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Bobcats, who have won six straight and improved to 13-1 in the month of February over the last two seasons. Over course of the past six campaigns, head coach Tom Moore and the Bobcats have posted a 38-8 record in the month.
Azotam leads the squad with 16.6 ppg and 10.7 rpg for the high-scoring Bobcats, who have four players average in double figures and score 79.4 ppg. Hearst (15.8), Umar Shannon (15) and Drame (13.2) round out the double-figure scores for Quinnipiac. Drame adds 10 rpg as well.
Niagara comes into today's game riding a seven-game losing streak after falling to Fairfield in a 72-66 final on Thursday night. Antoine Mason led all scorers with 22 points for his 21st 20-point game of the season. Backcourt mate, freshman Wesley Myers joined Mason in double figures by netting a career-high 17 points for the Purple Eagles, who fell to 3-14 in conference play with the loss. Marcus Ware scored 11 points and Ramone Snowden added 10 points for Niagara, which has dropped nine of 10 overall.
Mason not only leads Niagara in scoring, but he is the conference's leader with 25.5 ppg. However, his scoring output is about all the Purple Eagles get. No other player averages in double figures, as the team averages 75.8 ppg and allows 82.4 ppg.
This is the second meeting of the season between the Bobcats and Purple Eagles. Back on Jan. 18, Drame and Azotam both registered double-doubles to help Quinnipiac post an 85-71 victory. Azotam finished with 14 points and the same numbers of rebounds, while Drame tallied 14 points and 10 boards. Hearst also netted 14 points and came up just one board shy of a double-double. Umar Shannon scored a team-high 16 points. Antoine Mason poured in 28 points for Niagara, which began its recent slide with that setback.
The bottom line here is that Niagara is just overmatched by the Bobcats. Quinnipiac is too deep and even a career night from Mason probably wouldn't be enough for the Purple Eagles. Barring a major let down, expect the visitors to cruise.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Quinnipiac 85, Niagara 70
02/22 14:52:20 ET