Bryant (16-9) at Wagner (12-11)
DATE & TIME: Sunday, February 16, 12 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Spiro Sports Center (2,100) -- Staten Island, New York. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Bryant 10-2, Wagner 4-2. Away Record: Bryant 6-6, Wagner 7-7. Neutral Record: Bryant 0-1, Wagner 1-2. Conference Record: Bryant 8-2, Wagner 6-4. Series Record: Wagner leads, 5-2.
GAME NOTES: Northeast Conference foes do battle on Staten Island this Sunday, as the Bryant Bulldogs come calling on the Wagner Seahawks.
With a record of 16-9 overall and 8-2 in conference, Bryant is hoping to keep pace with Robert Morris in what has become a two-horse race for the NEC regular-season title. The Bulldogs bring a three-game win streak into this clash, which is the only scheduled meeting between the two teams this season. Bryant, which is an even 6-6 in true road games, has been idle since posting a 78-75 win over Mount St. Mary's at home on Feb. 8.
Wagner is a game over .500 this season (12-11), but its 6-4 league ledger puts it two games back of the Bulldogs with only five left to play after today. The Seahawks last played on Feb. 8 as well, winning at Sacred Heart in a 62-55 final. It was the second win in a row and third in the last four games for a Wagner club that is 4-2 at home this season.
Wagner leads the all-time series with Bryant, 5-2, but the teams split a pair of meetings last season.
Alex Francis was a man possessed in Bryant's narrow win over Mount St. Mary's, as he finished with 25 points and nine rebounds. Corey Maynard and Dyami Starks tacked on 16 points apiece, while Joe O'Shea pitched in with 10, all of which the Bulldogs used as they shot a rock-solid 52.8 percent from the field, draining 5-of-12 3-point attempts along the way. Conversely, they held the opposition to 41.7 percent field goal efficiency, although the Mount did drop 10 treys in the game.
Francis and Starks are both averaging roughly 20 ppg, giving the Bulldogs one of the more dynamic duos in all of college basketball, and its the former who also serves as the team's top rebounder with his 7.8 rpg. Maynard is netting double digits on a consistent basis as well, turning in 13.4 ppg. As a team, Bryant is producing 76.0 ppg thanks to a 47.8 percent shooting effort, which actually climbs to 50.4 percent against conference foes. When they have their backs to the basket, the Bulldogs are permitting 73.4 ppg, that figure dipping a bit to 72.3 ppg in NEC tilts.
Wagner didn't do much at the offensive end in its recent bout with Sacred Heart, shooting a mere 35 percent from the floor, but the Seahawks really applied the defensive pressure in allowing the Pioneers only 26.2 percent success on their field goal attempts. Sacred Heart was just 4-of-27 from 3- point range (.148). Jay Harris and Kenneth Ortiz paced the Bulldogs with 15 points apiece, while Latif Rivers came off the bench to chip in 10. Orlando Parker pulled down 14 of the team's 44 rebounds on the night.
Despite missing a handful of games, Rivers continues to be the team's leading scorer with his 14.1 ppg, while other double-digit scorers include Ortiz (12.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.5 apg), Harris (10.3 ppg) and Marcus Burton (10.3 ppg). As a collective unit, Bryant is putting up nearly the same number of points as it allows (71.5 ppg to 71.3 ppg), but the team has done well in holding foes to a 39.9 percent shooting effort, while also goading them into more than 13 turnovers per outing.
With only a few weeks left in the season, Wagner is really just playing for the best possible seed it can land in the upcoming NEC Tournament, while Bryant still has hopes of catching front-running Robert Morris for the league's regular-season crown. This should be a close game, but give Francis, Starks and the rest of the Bulldogs the nod.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bryant 69, Wagner 65
02/16 10:32:46 ET