Niagara (8-8) at Fairfield (10-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, January 13, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Webster Bank Arena (9,500) -- Bridgeport, Connecticut. Television: None. Home Record: Niagara 6-1, Fairfield 2-1. Away Record: Niagara 2-6, Fairfield 5-6. Neutral Record: Niagara 0-1, Fairfield 0-0. Conference Record: Niagara 4-1, Fairfield 2-3. Series Record: Niagara leads, 36-26.
GAME NOTES: The Niagara Purple Eagles look to continue their stellar start to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play as they take on the Fairfield Stags at Webster Bank Arena.
The Purple Eagles won for the third time in their last four appearances on Friday as they completed a 77-58 rout of the Saint Peter's Peacocks on the road to improve to 4-1 in the MAAC, which is tied for the best mark in the league. Coach Joe Mihalich's squad is one of the most capable teams on the offensive end in the conference with 74.5 points per contest on 42.8 percent shooting from the floor, but they are second to last on the other end with an allowed mark of 74.2 ppg.
The Stags are coming off of a heartbreaking, 63-58, overtime loss at Loyola- Maryland in which they saw a second half lead slip away. Josip Mikulic had a huge first half with 14 points and five rebounds to help Fairfield earn a six- point edge at the break, but the Greyhounds tied up the score with just over two minutes left before they dashed to the decision in the extra session with a 10-of-12 performance at the charity stripe. The loss was the second in a row following a six-game winning streak in which Fairfield held all of its opponents to 60 points or less before allowing Niagara to break the trend in the first meeting of the season between these schools.
Fairfield had defeated the Purple Eagles six times in a row before the Purple Eagles halted the skid with a 71-67 decision at home on Jan. 5. The victory increased Niagara's all-time series lead to 10 games (36-26).
The Purple Eagles are lighting up the scoreboard this season beyond its dynamic backcourt duo of Antoine Mason and Juan'ya Green. In their recent triumph over the Peacocks, Mason went 10-of-18 from the field on his way to a game-high 26 points while Green added 19 points and seven assists. Niagara, which blew a double-digit lead in the second half and lost to Brown in overtime on Tuesday, managed to keep a comfortable distance on the scoreboard versus SPC by hitting 46.2 percent of its field goal attempts, including 8- of-24 from beyond the arc. While Mason (18.4 ppg) and Green (17.1 ppg, 4.7 apg) has been impressive for Niagara, adding to the list of scoring options are Ameen Tanksley (10.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Marvin Jordan (8.0 ppg). The Purple Eagles aren't a very deep team though, with only one other player putting up more than six points per tilt.
The Stags rank seventh in the MAAC in scoring offense (62.8 ppg), but their strong defensive effort lately has yielded the second lowest scoring defense at 61.3 ppg. Defensively, Fairfield had a strong showing its last time out as it held the Greyhounds below 36 percent shooting from the field in both halves. Keith Matthews registered a double-double of 13 points and 10 boards for Fairfield as it dropped its second straight decision. Mikulic provided a spark off the bench with 16 points and six rebounds. The only double-digit scorer for the Stags is senior point guard Derek Needham (13.6 ppg, 3.8 apg).
This one pins a Purple Eagles unit that likes to run and gun against a defensive-minded Fairfield squad. The Stags should have no problem finding success against Niagara's suspect defense, but they will be overmatched if the pace of the contest gets too fast.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fairfield 70, Niagara 66
01/13 10:30:37 ET