The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 2, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Yanitelli Center (3,200) -- Jersey City, New Jersey. Television: None. Home Record: Niagara 5-9, Saint Peter's 7-5. Away Record: Niagara 1-13, Saint Peter's 5-11. Neutral Record: Niagara 0-2, Saint Peter's 0-0. Conference Record: Niagara 3-16, Saint Peter's 8-11. Series Record: Niagara leads, 47-28.
GAME NOTES: The 2013-14 regular season mercifully comes to an end for the Niagara Purple Eagles, as they visit the Peacock of Saint Peter's in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference clash on Sunday afternoon.
Niagara is hoping to snap a nine-game losing streak in this contest, its longest winless drought in nearly two decades, and win for only the second time on the road this season (1-13). The Purple Eagles have been victorious just three times time in 19 MAAC tilts, leaving them in last place in the league, although they can tie Fairfield for that dubious distinction should they win today. Regardless, they have already been saddled with the No. 11 seed in the upcoming MAAC Tournament.
Saint Peter's comes into the finale sporting a 12-16 mark, which includes an 8-11 league ledger. The Peacocks are riding a three-game win streak at the moment, and they've actually won five of their last seven overall. Depending on the outcome of this game as well as that of the other games involving MAAC teams on Sunday, Saint Peter's will go into the conference tourney anywhere from the sixth to the eighth seed.
Niagara leads the all-time series with Saint Peter's, 47-28, which includes victories in each of the last five meetings. The Purple Eagles won at home on Dec. 8, 2013, 61-56, as star guard Antoine Mason tied his career with 35 points.
Niagara is the worst defensive team in the MAAC, and one of the worst in the country, yielding an unsightly 82.4 ppg as foes are knocking down 48.7 percent of their total shots, which includes a 38.2 percent showing from 3-point range. Offensively, the Purple Eagles boast the nation's second-leading scorer in Mason (25.3 ppg), and they rank in the top half of the conference in both scoring (75.3 ppg) and field goal percentage (.424). They are however, the worst 3-point shooting team in the league (.292), while also coming in last in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.7), as well as blocked shots (2.2 bpg).
Niagara was routed at Monmouth on Friday night, 75-50, as Mason tallied 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Mason more than doubled the offensive efforts of his closest teammates, but was responsible for six of the team's whopping 24 turnovers. Overall, the Purple Eagles hit a mere 31 percent of their field goal attempts, missing all but one of their 13 3-point tries along the way. In fact, nearly half of their total scoring output came at the free-throw line (23-of-37). Defensively, Niagara forced 18 turnovers, but let the Hawks convert 51 percent of their total shots, including 6-of-10 from beyond the arc.
As bad as Niagara has been at stopping the opposition, the same can be said for Saint Peter's ability to put points on the scoreboard. The Peacocks rank last in the conference in scoring with a mere 63.1 ppg, as they shoot just 40.5 percent from the floor, which includes a 31.1 percent showing from 3- point range. Where Saint Peter's really earns it keep is when the team has its back to the basket, as it leads the MAAC in scoring defense (65.8 ppg), as its opponents connect on only 41.8 percent of their field goal attempts and 32.9 percent of their long-range launches, that latter figure ranking the Peacocks first in the league. The team has only two double-digit scorers, as Dominique Marvin (16.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg) and Desi Washington (13.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg) do their best to keep the squad competitive on most nights.
Washington hit for 16 points, and Dominique and Jamel Fields tallied 12 apiece for Saint Peter's in its hard-fought 63-62 win versus visiting Fairfield last Tuesday. Dominique actually logged a double-double in the victory, as he grabbed 10 of the team's 25 rebounds. The Peacocks were credited with only six assists on just 22 total goals, and while they shot an even 50 from the floor, they made good on only 3-of-11 3-point tries. A narrow 16-13 edge in points from the foul line helped the cause, as did the fact that the Stags had an equally tough time from the perimeter (3-of-13).
Mason is going to get his, but the Peacocks should be able to keep his teammates at bay, thus adding to the Purple Eagles run of futility, both on the road and during their current losing streak.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Peter's 66, Niagara 61
03/02 10:34:25 ET