Monmouth (7-9) at Niagara (4-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, January 10, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gallagher Center (2,400) -- Niagara, New York. Television: LCTV. Home Record: Monmouth 5-5, Niagara 3-2. Away Record: Monmouth 2-4, Niagara 0-7. Neutral Record: Monmouth 0-0, Niagara 1-2. Conference Record: Monmouth 1-3, Niagara 1-3. Series Record: Niagara leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: National scoring leader Antoine Mason will lead the Niagara Purple Eagles into battle on Friday night, as they host the Monmouth Hawks in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference showdown at the Gallagher Center.
The Hawks have struggled in their first season as a member of the MAAC, with only one win in three tries against league competition. They are also just 7-9 overall, including a 2-4 mark away from home. A matchup at Canisius is next on the schedule.
Niagara is no stranger to the MAAC, but that hasn't led it to more success than Monmouth. The Purple Eagles have lost three of their last four games, and sit at an identical 1-3 mark against the rest of the conference. However, they are just 4-11 overall, with a middling 3-2 mark at home where they will be again next time out versus Rider.
In the only previous meeting between these two programs, Niagara rolled to a 71-48 victory during the 2008-09 season.
Monmouth wrapped up a five-game homestand against fellow MAAC newcomer Quinnipiac last Saturday, but fell in a 94-77 final. The Hawks were more than doubled up in points from the free-throw line (27-13), and suffered a 45-25 deficit on the glass.
Leading scorer Deon Jones (16 ppg, 6.5 rpg) managed to get back into double figures in the contest, netting 14 points on 5-of-9 from the floor. He had only four points on 1-of-8 shooting in a 63-59 win over Siena in the previous tilt. Jones does not receive a ton of support, with Andrew Nicholas (13.7 ppg) the only other double-digit scorer, although he only connects on 36 percent of his attempts from the field. Justin Robinson (9.5 ppg, 3.9 apg) has ability, as he proved by scoring a team-high 15 points to go with six assists against Quinnipiac.
Despite getting 23 points from Ramone Snowden and 22 from Mason, Niagara was unable to top Iona the last time out, falling in a 118-92 decision. For how well they played on offense, the Purple Eagles were that much worse defensively, allowing the Gaels to sink a sizzling 64.5 percent of their shots from the floor, which included a 14-of-26 showing from beyond the arc.
Coming up short at the defensive end of the court has been the biggest issue for Niagara this season, as the team is allowing an unsightly 85.3 ppg, with foes shooting 48.3 percent from the field. The Purple Eagles also struggle to clog passing lanes, with teams averaging 15.5 apg. Mason (28.7 ppg) is one of the most prolific scorers in the country, let alone the MAAC. The 6-foot-3 guard has netted at least 20 points in all but one game this season, and has gone over the 30-point mark nine times. Too much of the offense revolves around his efforts though, with Marvin Jordan (10.1 ppg) the next-best option.
With how well Mason can score, there is always a chance the Purple Eagles can just shoot themselves past any defensive shortcomings. Expect them to do so on Friday, especially if Monmouth struggles to find its offensive groove on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Niagara 82, Monmouth 76
01/10 10:16:01 ET