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Fairfield (18-14) vs. Rider (18-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: MassMutual Center (7,552) -- Springfield, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Fairfield 7-5, Rider 9-5. Away Record: Fairfield 7-9, Rider 7-8. Neutral Record: Fairfield 4-0, Rider 2-0. Conference Record: Fairfield 9-9, Rider 12-6. Series Record: Fairfield leads, 28-24.
GAME NOTES: Already with one win under their belt in the 32nd annual Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament, the Fairfield Stags now turn their attention to the Rider Broncs as the squads collide in the quarterfinals of the event on Saturday night.
The Stags, the seventh seed in this year's event, began the tourney with a 54-47 triumph over Saint Peter's on Friday, moving them closer to a .500 record (26-29) all-time in the tourney. Fairfield has won the title three times over the years, but has not celebrated since 1997.
The second-seeded Broncs have yet to bring home the trophy in this event, sporting an 11-15 record overall, although they did compete in the title game as recently as 2008 versus Siena. Rider managed to close out the regular season strong with five straight wins and seven in the last eight outings overall, the lone setback during the run coming against Iona a month ago, 78-71.
Fairfield won both meetings with Rider during the regular season, which means the Stags now own a 28-24 advantage in the all-time series.
The winner of this meeting will go up against the survivor of the Manhattan/Loyola-Maryland matchup in the semifinals on Sunday afternoon for the right to compete in the tournament title tilt on Monday night.
Derek Needham tallied a game-high 24 points as the Fairfield Stags defeated the Saint Peter's Peacocks during the first round of the tournament on Friday night. Needham, the only player to score in double figures for Fairfield, shot 8-of-21 from the floor as the rest of the team combined to make 11-of-28 on the night. Amadou Sidibe checked in with a game-high 13 rebounds for the Stags. In addition to holding a 12-4 scoring edge at the charity stripe, the Stags also posted a 39-23 rebounding advantage in order to offset their 4- of-16 shooting performance beyond the arc.
Needham remains the only double-digit scorer for the Stags through 32 games, putting up 14.6 ppg for a program that is struggling to come up with even 61.4 ppg as it demonstrated last night. Luckily, the defense for the Stags doesn't give up without a fight, holding the competition to just 59.2 ppg.
By no means a punishing team at the offensive end of the floor with just 64.7 ppg, the Broncs lean more on their defense to get the job done as they held foes to an average of 63.8 ppg this season. Jonathon Thompson, a 51.0 percent shooter from the floor, led Rider not only in scoring (12.8 ppg), but also assists (99) and steals (45), giving it his full effort at both ends of the floor. Anthony Myles and Daniel Stewart chipped in with 12.2 and 10.9 ppg, respectively, the latter being one of the top men on the glass in the MAAC with close to seven and a half boards per contest.
Expect a low-scoring game for sure, one that Rider should be able to pull out considering it has enjoyed the added rest time before heading back to the hardwood.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rider 55, Fairfield 51
03/09 10:35:43 ET
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