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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 29, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gallagher Center (2,100) -- Niagara, New York. Television: Time Warner Sports. Home Record: Brown 2-1, Niagara 2-2. Away Record: Brown 4-3, Niagara 0-5. Neutral Record: Brown 0-0, Niagara 1-2. Conference Record: Brown 0-0, Niagara 1-1. Series Record: Brown leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: In their final non-conference test of the season, the Niagara Purple Eagles will go head-to-head with the Brown Bears at the Gallagher Center.
The Bears will be attempting to stop a two-game slide, after suffering back- to-back losses to Albany (74-68) and Northwestern (58-52). The setbacks were part of a 2-3 mark over the last five games for Brown, which is 6-4 overall and set to face Rhode Island on Thursday.
The non-league slate for the Purple Eagles was one that did not earn them many victories. They have claimed just two wins in 10 tries against teams from outside the MAAC, including a 74-72 letdown against St. Bonaventure last time out. Niagara, which has split its first two league games, will get back to work on Thursday as well, against Rider.
These teams met up in early January last season, with Brown pulling out a 75-74 triumph at home. It was the second win in three meetings for the Bears.
Brown hung with Northwestern on the road, but eventually fell short. The Bears were only able top connect on 31.7 percent of their shots from the floor, while doing themselves no favors at the free-throw line (9-of-19). Sean McGonagill was the leading scorer with 16 points.
Seeing McGonagill's name at the top of the scoring list has become an expected occurrence for Brown. The senior guard leads the team in points (18.6 per game), doing so primarily as a gunner from beyond the arc. McGonagill has nailed 41.2 percent of his shots from 3-point range, including six games in which he has finished with at least four triples. Rafael Maia (10.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg) is the only other member of the team scoring in double figures. Cedric Kuakumensah (7.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3 bpg) provides length and a defensive presence on the interior.
Niagara was sunk by the Bonnies when Charlon Kloof connected on a layup as the buzzer sounded. The Purple Eagles did not score in the final 1:58 of regulation, with Antoine Mason missing a 3-point attempt and two shots from the free-throw line down the stretch.
Mason still finished with 24 points as the leading scorer for either team in the losing effort. The 6-foot-3 guard leads the nation in scoring (28.2 ppg), while adding four rebounds per game as well. Mason has had seven games of more than 30 points, and is the focal points for an offense that nets 78.3 ppg. Any benefit of that production has been nullified by a largely ineffective defensive approach, with the Purple Eagles being lit up for 84.3 ppg on 48.2 percent shooting by their opponents. Marvin Jordan (10.6 ppg) does his best as the second option behind Mason, but there really is very little balance for Niagara.
Brown has shown some resiliency on the road with a 4-3 mark. Although Mason will keep the Purple Eagles competitive, the more balanced Bears should prevail.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Brown 79, Niagara 76
12/29 10:34:20 ET