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Niagara (7-25) vs. Quinnipiac (19-10)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 9 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: MassMutual Center (7,552) -- Springfield, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Niagara 5-9, Quinnipiac 10-3. Away Record: Niagara 1-14, Quinnipiac 8-7. Neutral Record: Niagara 1-2, Quinnipiac 1-0. Conference Record: Niagara 3-17, Quinnipiac 14-6. Series Record: Quinnipiac leads, 4-0.

GAME NOTES: The Bobcats of Quinnipiac get their first taste of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament action, as they go up against the Niagara Purple Eagles in the quarterfinals of the 33rd annual event at the MassMutual Center on Saturday evening.

Coming over from the Northeast Conference, the Bobcats are in their first year in the MAAC and did quite well for themselves as the finished in third place in the standings with a record of 14-6, trailing only Manhattan and Iona.

The Bobcats, the third seed in this event, won seven straight games to begin the month of February, but then the squad suffered a couple of late defeats partly due to the fact that the roster looks more like a MASH unit at the moment. Since the fourth week of December, the program has lost a total of five players due to injury and personal reasons, the latest being one of the more influential performers in Umar Shannon, who just had knee surgery.

As for the Purple Eagles, owners of two MAAC Tournament titles and a record of 23-22 in the event overall, they are the 11th seed this time around. Despite beating MAAC foes a total of just three times during the regular season, Niagara managed to take down the Marist Red Foxes in the first round of the tourney on Thursday night by a score of 78-76.

The Bobcats have won all four of the previous meetings with Niagara, although the team did need some late heroics in the final moments of the 90-88 final at the Gallagher Center back on Feb. 22.

The winner of this clash will be taking on the survivor of the Saint Peter's/Manhattan battle in the semifinals for the right to take part in the championship round on Monday night.

The Purple Eagles led by as many as 24 points in the second half against the sixth-seeded Red Foxes a couple nights back, but had to hang on for dear life down the stretch in order to secure the upset. Producing one of the highest- scoring efforts in school history, Antoine Mason stepped up and knocked down 13-of-19 shots from the field and 12-of-18 at the free-throw line as he finished with 38 points in 40 minutes of action. Marcus Ware registered a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Marvin Jordan who tallied 11 points, but also turned the ball over six times.

Listed as the second-leading scorer in the nation at 25.6 ppg, Mason saw his average against MAAC foes dip to just 22.8 ppg during 20 regular-season outings.

Umar Shannon (14.3 ppg) may have been just a 34.6 percent shooter from the floor, but was actually better behind the 3-point line at 36.1 percent, but he was often the one directing the offense for one of the more athletic teams in the conference. While there are not too many players out there averaging a double-double these days, Quinnipiac has the luxury of owning a pair of such performers in Ike Azotam (16.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg) and Ousmane Drame (13.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg), with the duo also combining to block 93 shots as well.

Because of the efforts of Azotam, Drame and Zaid Hearst (15.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg), each of whom made an All-MAAC team this season, the Bobcats led the nation in rebounding margin with a +12.3 rpg as of Sunday. Unfortunately, as great as the Bobcats have been on the glass (46.0 ppg), it is their scoring defense (76.3 ppg) that continues to give them problems.

The fact that Niagara nearly let a huge advantage slip away on Thursday is an indication that, while Mason might be able to score at-will, the defense for the Purple Aces is simply not up to the challenge and that's something the Bobcats will certainly exploit.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Quinnipiac 82, Niagara 71

03/08 11:56:17 ET

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Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
Final
SFG 11
KAN 4
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
Final
CLEM 16
SYR 6
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
Final
COLST 45
WYO 31
Final
LSU 10
MISS 7
Final
TENN 20
ALA 34
Final
AUB 42
SCAR 35
Final
PSU 24
OSU 31
Final
UTAH 24
USC 21
Final
WASH 10
ARST 24
Final
HAW 18
NEV 26
 
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
Final
STL 3
CHI 2
Final
NAS 0
PIT 3
Final
MIN 7
TAM 2
Final
ARI 2
FLA 1
Final
CAL 1
WAS 3
3:00pm Today
WIN
COL
 
4:00pm Today
LOS
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
SJS
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
WAS
 
9:30am Today
ATL
DET
1:00pm Today
CIN
BAL
1:00pm Today
NYJ
BUF
1:00pm Today
NEP
CHI
1:00pm Today
TEN
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
MIA
1:00pm Today
TAM
MIN
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
1:00pm Today
KAN
STL
4:05pm Today
ARI
PHI
4:25pm Today
PIT
IND
4:25pm Today
CLE
OAK
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
GBP
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14