Niagara (2-3) at Iona (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 28, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hynes Center (2,611) -- New Rochelle, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Niagara 2-1, Iona 1-0. Away Record: Niagara 0-1, Iona 0-0. Neutral Record: Niagara 0-1, Iona 1-2. Conference Record: Niagara 0-0, Iona 0-0. Series Record: Iona leads, 37-33.
GAME NOTES: The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will kick off league play on Wednesday when the Niagara Purple Eagles travel to New Rochelle to face off against the Iona Gaels, in Toys for Tots action.
The Purple Eagles are coming off a tough loss to St. Bonaventure 80-75. With the setback, Niagara falls one game under .500 on the season at 2-3. The team will remain on the road four three more games after this one and won't return home until Dec. 12 against Hartford.
The last time the Iona squad was out on the court was at the Paradise Jam on November 19th, where it lost to Illinois in a spirited game, 86-81. The Gaels dropped two of three games in the Bahamas, with a win over Wake Forest sitting between losses to Quinnipiac and the Illini.
The Gaels lead the series between these teams 37-33, thanks to wins in each of the last four meetings.
In its loss to St. Bonaventure, Niagara fought until the end. The score was tied at 75-75 with under a minute left but five made free throws by the Bonnies did the Purple Eagles in. Still, the team received a balanced scoring effort, with four players notching double digits, led by Ameen Tanksley's 19 points.
The Eagles have been amongst the best in terms of scoring, currently ranked 26th in the country with 80.2 ppg. The long ball has been a key weapon, at 9.8 3-pointers per game, good for eighth nationally. The team has been led in scoring by Antoine Mason and his 17.4 ppg. Mason is followed closely by Juan'ya Green at 16.6 ppg. Although the Purple Eagles have had plenty of success at the offensive end, it has not carried over to the defense, with the team allowing 84.4 ppg.
In the high-scoring loss against Illinois, Iona was led by three players in double-figure scoring. Lamont Jones led the way with 22 points. Sean Armand poured in 20 points, while Tre Bowman added 16. After leading 38-33 at halftime, the Gaels allowed Illinois to shoot 55.2 percent from the floor and knock down 7-of-10 3-pointers over the final 20 minutes to earn the come-from- behind victory.
The Gaels have also flourished offensively, as three players are averaging double figures, including two players netting 20+ points a game. Jones leads the way with 25.8 ppg with Armand adding 21.3 ppg, Bowman rounds out the potent trio with 14.3 ppg. The squad has averaged 83.0 ppg (15th in the nation) on 46.9 percent shooting from the floor. With the offense clicking, the defensive play is what leaves this team with a .500 record, as it has allowed opponents to shoot 47.2 percent from the floor, while scoring 77.5 ppg. In addition, Iona has committed 84 personal fouls this season, putting their opponents on the free-throw line way too often.
Both teams have showed impressive offensive play early on this season but have both failed to play as productively on the defensive end. The hometown team gets the nod in this one, a game that could feature a whole lot of scoring.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 89, Niagara 75
11/28 10:33:47 ET