Niagara (12-16) at Vermont (18-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 18th, 2:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Patrick Gymnasium (3,266) -- Burlington, Vermont. Television: . Home Record: Niagara 7-7, Vermont 8-4. Away Record: Niagara 4-7, Vermont 9-5. Neutral Record: Niagara 1-2, Vermont 1-1. Conference Record: Niagara 7-9, Vermont 12-2. Series Record: Niagara leads, 15-2.
GAME NOTES: BracketBuster play continues this afternoon in Vermont, as the red-hot Catamounts play host to the Niagara Purple Eagles at Patrick Gymnasium.
Niagara concluded its home schedule with a hard-fought 60-57 overtime win against archrival Canisius in MAAC play on Wednesday evening, improving to 12-16 overall this season in the process. The win was the third in a row for the Purple Eagles, a string of victories that has come in the wake of a five- game skid.
As for Vermont, the Catamounts have really been rolling lately, winning nine straight overall and 12 of their last 13 outings. The Catamounts are coming off a hard-fought 50-47 win at Albany on Wednesday night that improved the squad to 18-10 overall this season, and Vermont now sits atop the America East standings with a 12-2 mark.
Niagara holds a 15-2 lead over Vermont in the all-time series between the two foes.
The Purple Eagles led 33-28 heading into the break against Canisius, and bumped that to a seven-point lead in the second stanza before Canisius battled back to take a 45-41 lead with just over eight minutes remaining. Niagara got the lead back, and owned a 55-51 advantage with just 39 ticks on the clock. The Golden Griffins still wouldn't go away, however, and tied things up at 55-55 at the foul line with nine seconds left. The Purple Eagles had one last chance at a win in regulation at the buzzer, but an Antoine Mason three- pointer rimmed out and an extra session was forged. In overtime, Niagara was paced by a 5-of-7 effort at the foul line, holding Canisius to without a field goal through eight tries to escape with a three-point triumph. Mason scored 21 points to pace Niagara, while Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley netted 16 and 10 points, respectively. The Purple Eagles are shooting just 40.7 percent from the floor as a team this season, yet the squad averages a healthy 70.1 points per game and owns three players with a double-digit scoring average. At the other end of the court, however, Niagara has allowed the opposition to net 73.4 ppg via a 44.6 percent clip, but the Purple Eagles have forced a whopping 447 miscues as well. Green leads the way for the Purple Eagles on the season, tallying 17.1 ppg to go with 125 assists through 28 games, while Mason has been responsible for 15.0 ppg. Marvin Jordan rounds out the trio, netting 11.3 ppg.
Vermont shot at an underwhelming 43.5 percent clip that included a meager 4- for-16 from long range against Albany, but the Catamounts stepped things up at the defensive end of the court and limited Albany to an even-worse 36.2 percent shooting. The contest was a back-and-forth affair throughout, and the Catamounts led just 48-47 with nine seconds remaining. A pair of Sandro Carissimo free throws earned Vermont a three-point edge, however, and the squad held on through one more Albany possession. Brendan Bald scored 10 points to pace the Catamounts, while Brian Voelkel pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds. The Catamounts average just 67.3 ppg this season, but have also yielded just 61.6 ppg to their adversaries. Four McGlynn, with an 11.8 ppg tally, leads the way on offense for the Catamounts this year. Matt Glass follows closely behind, with an 11.3 ppg mark, while Luke Apfeld registers a solid 10.5 ppg.
Go with Vermont in this one. The Catamounts should be able to force plenty of turnovers, which will ultimately be the difference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vermont 68, Niagara 63
02/18 10:46:16 ET