Marist will be looking to make it three in a row Friday night when they take on #1 seed Niagara University in the McCann Arena at 8:00 p.m. The game will be available to watch on ESPN 3 as well as the Red Fox Network with live audio also available through goredfoxes.com. The Red Foxes are riding high at the moment with a 2 game win streak while Niagara is reeling in the midst of a 3 game skid. The Purple Eagles need a win to maintain their hold on the top spot in the MAAC while Marist tries to carry this momentum into March.
Last Time These Teams Met: Niagara 94 Marist 72
Niagara’s Last Time Out: 77-70 Loss Vs Canisius on February 10th
Niagara’s Leading Scorer: Antoine Mason 18.9 ppg
Niagara’s Record: 14-11 (10-4)
Niagara’s 3 game losing streak is their second of the year. The last time the Purple Eagles had lost three in a row they snapped back with a 1 point win in a thriller over Loyola. Aside from having experience breaking out of this kind of slump, Niagara may also benefit from the possible return of their top gun Antoine Mason. Mason, who is the son of former NBA All-Star Anthony Mason, had missed the last two games with an ankle injury but appears to be healthy enough to return.
Mason leads the team in points per game with 18.9. The Purple Eagles are not a one man show however, Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley also average double figures at 16.5 and 11.6 points per game respectively. Green also dishes out 5.2 assists per game while Tanksley hauls in 6 rebounds per contest.
Despite the 3 game losing streak Niagara is still a very dangerous team. Their last three games were decided by an average of just 4 points. Mason’s return, paired with a shrinking lead in the MAAC will give Coach Mihalich’s squad all the motivation they need to get up for this game.
Marist is playing their best basketball in 2 months when they took down the SEC’s Vanderbilt University in one of the program’s biggest wins. The 2 game winning streak has given Marist a little bit of hope as the post-season draws nearer. If this level of play continues Marist will be a scary team come MAAC tournament time. In order to play to their full potential, they will need center Adam Kemp to continue his all-conference play.
Kemp, who was recently named MAAC player of the week, averaged 26 ppg and 14.5 rpg in Marist’s last two games. He has had flashes of brilliance throughout the year but this is the first time he’s been able to string those performances together. Niagara has no true center on their squad so the door is open for Kemp to continue his rampage in the paint.
Another player who has been a major contributor as of late has been junior forward and team captain Jay Bowie. Bowie had missed several games in the middle of the season with concussion like symptoms but came back 2 games ago and has revitalized the Red Foxes. Bowie’s stats do not jump off the page but his toughness and leadership along with his ability to improve spacing had been sorely missed during his absence.
What makes the Red Foxes win streak even more impressive is that they have been able to win without another team captain, Devin Price, in the lineup. Price has missed the last 2 games with an ankle injury and it seems likely he will have to sit out this game as well. Price returned from injury prematurely earlier in the year and his play suffered for it. The Foxes are taking care to wait until their 1,000 point guard is 100% before inserting him back into the lineup this time.
This has all the makings of a very close game. Niagara is tops in the conference but are reeling from their 3 straight losses. Marist is only 4-10 in the conference this year but have taken down 2 of the better teams in the MAAC in a row and have the McCann Arena advantage. There is no better point in the season for the Foxes to play this game than right now while they’re stock is high. Get ready for a high scoring, exciting game when these two teams lock horns Friday night.
Marist Probable Starting Line-up Niagara Probable Starting Line-up
#11 Isaiah Morton 5-8 Guard #10 Juan’ya Green 6-3 Guard
#32 T.J. Curry 6-1 Guard #5 Tahjere McCall 6-4 Guard
#40 Chavaughn Lewis 6-5 Guard/Forward #14 Antoine Mason 6-3 Guard
#20 Jay Bowie 6-5 Forward #11 Ameen Tanksley 6-6 Guard
#50 Adam Kemp 6-10 Center #2 Devon White 6-8 Forward