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Monmouth (11-20) vs. Rider (13-16)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 6, 5 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: MassMutual Center (7,552) -- Springfield, Massachusetts. Television: None. Home Record: Monmouth 8-8, Rider 6-7. Away Record: Monmouth 3-12, Rider 6-8. Neutral Record: Monmouth 0-0, Rider 1-1. Conference Record: Monmouth 5-15, Rider 9-11. Series Record: Rider leads, 25-15.

GAME NOTES: The first round of the 33rd annual Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament gets underway today, as newcomer Monmouth challenges the Rider Broncs at the MassMutual Center.

The Hawks, who came over from the Northeast Conference along with Quinnipiac, are the ninth seed in this event after winning just five of 20 league bouts in 2013-14. The team was crushed in the regular-season finale on Sunday at Siena by a score of 70-54, which means it has now dropped 10 of it last 11 decisions.

As for the eighth-seeded Broncs, a team which has never won this event and has a record of only 11-16 in the tourney since joining the league, they too had trouble closing out games over the last month. The squad was dominated by top- seeded Iona over the weekend, 97-81, the fourth consecutive setback for the program and the seventh in the last eight games overall.

Rider won both regular season meetings with the Hawks by six points, taking the conference opener way back on Dec. 5 on the road by a score of 89-83 before needing overtime to duplicate the feat at home on Jan. 26 in a 77-71 final. As a result of the sweep, the Broncs now lead the all-time series by a count of 25-15.

The survivor of this meeting will be pitted against top-seeded Iona in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

The Hawks didn't do that much to distinguish themselves as a key player in the MAAC this season, defeating just a single league opponent over the final month of the regular season. The team has a pair of scorers that carry much of the load in Deon Jones and Andrew Nicholas who put up 15.0 and 14.4 ppg, respectively, which means the rest of the roster combines for about 40 ppg. In addition to being the primary scoring option, Jones is also tops on the glass with seven boards per contest. In the two games against Rider, the Hawks generated 77.0 ppg by shooting 42.0 percent behind the 3-point line, but the team's efforts at the charity stripe were simply abysmal (15-of-34) and it didn't help that Nicholas fouled out of both matchups.

The points allowed by Rider in the final game of the regular season to Iona were the most given up by the program this season, the team finishing third from the bottom in the MAAC scoring defense (76.6 ppg). While the defense was certainly lax more often than not, the offense could count on Anthony Myles to come up with 16.2 ppg, followed by Daniel Stewart and Jimmie Taylor with 15.0 and 12.0 ppg, respectively. Again, focusing on the positive, the Broncs enter the conference tournament leading the league in 3-point shooting at a 39.9 percent clip and are second at the charity stripe with 73.0 percent accuracy which may come in handy once more in this matchup.

If Nicholas can stay on the floor the Hawks may actually have a fighting chance in this meeting, otherwise Rider has the offensive numbers to move to the next round.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rider 74, Monmouth 68

03/06 10:29:31 ET

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