Albany (19-9) at Fairfield (17-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 1 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Webster Bank Arena (10,000) -- Bridgeport, Connecticut. Television: None. Home Record: UA 9-4, Fairfield 7-4. Away Record: UA 9-4, Fairfield 7-7. Neutral Record: UA 1-1, Fairfield 3-0. Conference Record: UA 8-6, Fairfield 9-7. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: For the first time ever, the Fairfield Stags and Albany Great Danes will meet on the hardwood, as the two are set for a BracketBuster matchup at Webster Bank Arena.
Fairfield has picked up some steam of late, as the team enters this game with wins in seven of its last eight outings. Still, the Stags are in the middle of the pack in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings thanks to a five- game slide last month. The Stags were in action this past Monday, as they notched a 66-64 victory over Iona.
Albany is tied for fourth place in the America East Conference standings. The Great Danes are coming off Wednesday night's 79-69 loss at Boston University. They have fared rather well on the road, posting a 10-5 record outside of Albany this season.
Albany posted a 38-25 rebounding advantage over BU on Wednesday night, but the Terriers made 10 3-pointers (.400) compared to only three for the Great Danes (.200). The Terriers began the second half with a 15-6 spurt to open up a double-digit lead, and they went on to shoot a sizzling 61.5 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes. Mike Black led all scorers with a game-high 21 points, marking his eighth 20-point performance of the season. Sam Rowley chipped in with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go along with eight rebounds. Defensively, UA forced only four turnovers for the game. The Great Danes are at their best when Black and fellow guard Jacob Iati are locked in from long range. Black leads the team in scoring 15.1 points per game, followed by Iati with 12.4 ppg. That duo has combined to knock down 119 threes (.388).
The Stags have a deep threat of their own in Derek Needham, who has made 68 treys (.351) and leads the team in scoring with 14.9 ppg. However, Needham is also the only Stags player averaging double figures on the season. In Monday's dramatic win over Iona, it was Needham who came through with the game-winning 3-pointer with 5.5 seconds remaining. He finished with a team-high 17 points, while freshman Justin Jenkins returned from a seven-game absence due to a hand injury and tallied 12 points and five assists in 27 minutes. Jenkins' three with 3:48 remaining kick-started a 9-0 run for the Stags, who were trailing by seven before his bucket. Fairfield got another big effort off the bench from Maurice Barrow, as he scored 10 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
The Stags have been playing solid basketball over the past few weeks, and with Jenkins back in the lineup to provide a spark, they should be able to continue their winning ways in this matchup.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fairfield 70, Albany 66
02/23 10:40:26 ET