Iona (14-8) at Canisius (14-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Koessler Center (2,196) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Iona 8-0, Canisius 9-2. Away Record: Iona 5-5, Canisius 5-6. Neutral Record: Iona 1-3, Canisius 0-0. Conference Record: Iona 8-3, Canisius 7-4. Series Record: Iona leads, 32-27
GAME NOTES: The Iona Gaels try to get themselves back into the win column on Saturday when they travel to face the Canisius Golden Griffins in a pivotal Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference showdown at the Koessler Center.
Both Iona and Canisius enter the matchup with identical 14-8 overall marks, but the Gaels are one game better in the conference standings at 8-3 compared to the Griffs' 7-4 mark.
Iona failed to make any headway in the conference on Thursday, as it was upended by the top team in the MAAC, Niagara, 93-90, in overtime. David Laury recorded a double-double with 24 points and 16 boards. Lamont Jones was two rebounds shy of a double-double with 23 points, but also turned the ball over eight times on the night. Sean Armand, Tre Bowman, and Curtis Dennis added 11 points apiece as Iona saw its two- game winning streak come to an end.
Canisius, meanwhile, pulled within a game of the Gaels on Thursday, as Jordan Heath scored 21 points, had 11 rebounds and was three blocks shy of a triple- double and to power the Golden Griffins get past the Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds, 91-79. Chris Manhertz posted 11 points and eight rebounds in the win, Billy Baron chipped in 16 points and seven assists, while Isaac Sosa added 19 points and Harold Washington recorded 13 as Canisius won for the fourth time in the last five games.
This will be the 60th meeting in history between these schools. Iona owns a 32-27 edge in the all-time series after topping the Golden Griffins, 97-87, back on Jan. 13.
Iona had its chances against Niagara and led by as many as 15 points with under seven minutes to go only to give up a tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation as well as a game-winning trey in the waning moments of overtime. The Gaels out-shot (49.2 percent-39.8 percent), out-rebounded (46-42), and had more assists (16-15) than Niagara. However, the Purple Eagles drained 11 3- pointers and committed just six turnovers. The Gaels not only have the MAAC's leading scorer in Jones (22.3 ppg), but they also have the third best point producer in the league in Sean Armand (18.1 ppg). The dynamic duo is a big part of the reason Iona is near the top of the conference and ranks fourth in the nation with 81.8 points per game.
Canisius boasts four players averaging double figures, led by Baron with 16.0 ppg. Washington (12.9 ppg), Sosa (13.0 ppg) and Heath (10.5) also get plenty of looks in half-court sets, and that group has combined to knock down 170 3- pointers through 22 games. Put simply, leaving the Golden Griffins unguarded along the perimeter is not a recommended formula for success for opposing teams. That was certainly the case against Loyola, as the Griffs shot 60.4 percent from the field, 68.4 percent from 3-point land and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line en route to the team's second 90-plus point effort this season. It was the first time Canisius shot better than 60 percent from the floor since 2008.
If you are a fan of defensive basketball this may not be the game for you. Expect both teams to light up the scoreboard. Iona, though, nearly pulled off a road win in Niagara two nights ago and should be able to get one on Saturday behind Jones.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 83, Canisius 77
02/02 10:33:43 ET