Iona (18-13) vs. Niagara (19-12)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 10, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: MassMutual Center (7,552) -- Springfield, Massachusetts.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Iona 11-1, Niagara 11-4. Away Record: Iona
5-9, Niagara 7-7. Neutral Record: Iona 2-3, Niagara 1-1. Conference Record:
Iona 11-7, Niagara 13-5. Series Record: Iona leads, 38-34.
GAME NOTES: The top-seeded Niagara Purple Eagles head back to the hardwood on
Sunday afternoon as they clash with the fourth-seeded Iona Gaels in the
semifinals of the 32nd annual Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament at
the MassMutual Center in Springfield.
Niagara, which earned a bye through the first round of the tournament, hit the
ground running on Saturday afternoon with a convincing 74-62 triumph over the
Siena Saints. The Purple Eagles are now 22-21 all-time in this event and are
seeking their third championship, the first since 2007.
As for the Gaels, owners of a league-record seven tournament titles, they were
caught up in an offensive battle with fifth-seeded Canisius on Saturday and
ended up on the right end of an 89-85 final in order to advance.
These two teams kicked off the MAAC schedule rather early this season back in
late November, with Iona posting an 83-72 win at home. However, the Purple
Eagles returned the favor at the end of January with a 93-90 overtime decision
which means the all-time series now stands at 38-34 in favor of the Gaels.
The winner of this contest will head to the tournament's title game on Monday
night versus the survivor of the Manhattan/Fairfield meeting.
Except for Tavon Sledge who came up scoreless through 24 minutes of action,
every starter for the Gaels hit for double figures in the win versus Canisius
yesterday, beginning with Lamont Jones who dropped in 33 points as he
converted all 14 of his attempts at the free-throw line. Sean Armand tallied
24 points, Taaj Ridley added 13 and David Laury registered a double-double
with 10 points and 14 rebounds for a squad that used a 34-12 scoring advantage
at the free-throw line to survive a game that featured 11 ties and seven lead
Jones, one of the top scorers in the country and the MAAC Player of the Year,
is pouring in an incredible 23.5 ppg and is also first on the unit in assists
with 109. A fixture at the free-throw line (208-of-236), Jones has accounted
for a huge portion of the team's 487 conversions at the charity stripe in
2012-13. Armand (17.1 ppg) is a fantastic second option who has made good on
104-of-250 beyond the arc.
Niagara shot only 40.4 percent from the floor and 28.6 percent behind the 3-
point line on Saturday when it clashed with Siena, but those were not the most
important stats in the meeting. More of an indicator for how the game would
play out was the 22-9 scoring edge for the Purple Eagles at the free-throw
line and the 20 turnovers the team forced. Antoine Mason scored a game-high 21
points, hitting all 10 of his chances at the charity stripe, followed by
Juan'ya Green with 15 points, six assists and five rebounds for the top squad
in the tourney.
Mason and Green are the ones who make the Niagara offense go these days,
scoring 18.4 ppg and 16.9 ppg, respectively, as they combine to make 290 of
the unit's 495 shots at the free-throw line. Green is also the leader when it
comes to assists with his 157 dishes, adding a team-best 58 steals at the
other end of the floor as well.
Obviously the Gaels have great offensive potential, but the same goes for a
Niagara squad that is probably more comfortable when the scoring gets out of
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Niagara 83, Iona 77
03/10 10:30:45 ET