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Fairfield (5-22) at Niagara (6-21)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 20, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gallagher Center (2,100) -- Niagara, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Fairfield 4-9, Niagara 4-7. Away Record: Fairfield 1-11, Niagara 1-12. Neutral Record: Fairfield 0-2, Niagara 1-2. Conference Record: Fairfield 2-14, Niagara 3-13. Series Record: Niagara leads, 38-26.
GAME NOTES: Two teams at the bottom of the conference standings do battle, as the Fairfield Stags have made the trek to the Empire State to take on the Niagara Purple Eagles in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference matchup at the Gallagher Center on Thursday night.
Fairfield has lost three straight, including a 71-62 setback versus Rider last Saturday. The Stags have now lost eight of their last nine, and are ensconced in last place in the MAAC.
Only Fairfield has a worse record in conference play than Niagara, who has lost six straight and also eight of its last nine. Last time out, the Purple Eagles were taken out by Manhattan on the road, 90-72.
Niagara leads the all-time series, 38-26 and has won three straight in the series after a six-game losing streak to the Stags. The Purple Eagles won at Fairfield on Jan. 16, 67-63. Ramone Snowden scored a game-high 18 points, including the go-ahead basket with 26 seconds left to get the win.
Maurice Barrow led Fairfield in the loss to Rider with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. Marcus Gilbert posted 20 points and eight rebounds, while Amadou Sidibe pulled down a game-high nine boards and K.J. Rose handed out five assists as the Stags. Leading 31-28 at the break, the Stags shot just 37 percent from the floor in the second half and allowed Rider to knock down its shots at a 53.6 percent clip. The Stags were hurt by their own mistakes, as the Broncs tallied 27 points off of Fairfield's 15 turnovers.
No team in the MAAC is performing worse on offense than Fairfield. The Stags are last in the league in both scoring (62.1 ppg) and field goal percentage (.394), as well as eighth in assists (11.0 apg). Gilbert (13.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Barrow (13.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) are the top scorers on the roster. Rose (7.9 ppg, 3.6 apg) is the team's leader in assists. They are holding foes to just 69.7 ppg, which is the second-best yield in the conference.
In the loss to Manhattan, the Purple Eagles were paced by Marcus Ware and his 19 points, while Antoine Mason and Tahjere McCall responded with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Manhattan limited the Niagara to just eight field goals through the first 20 minutes of play, en route to a 41-30 lead at the break. In the second half, Niagara showed signs of life with an impressive 61.9 percent showing from the field, but at the same time the Jaspers converted 58.6 percent in order to pull even further ahead and secure the lopsided home win.
Mason continues to be one of the top scorers in the nation with his 25.6 ppg, with nearly one-third of his total points coming at the free-throw line where he has knocked down 214-of-289 (.740). Despite no other player averaging in double figures, as a team, the Purple Eagles are scoring a respectable 76.1 ppg, but also giving up an unsightly 82.8 ppg on 49 percent shooting, both league-worsts, which makes it difficult to come out on the winning end from one game to the next.
As can be expected by the teams fighting to stay out of the MAAC cellar, both give up a ton of points. The Purple Eagles have been able to score though, in their attempt to make up for their defensive struggles, so expect the home team to pull out the victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Niagara 74, Fairfield 66
02/20 10:17:47 ET
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