Pur­ple Ea­gles will try to re­v­erse down­ward slide

The Buffalo News - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - By Rachel Lenzi vs. Mon­mouth

Tip-off: 9 p.m. Thurs­day, Times Union Cen­ter, Al­bany. TV: ESPN3. Ra­dio: 107.3 FM/1400 AM

Records: No. 11 Ni­a­gara 13-18, No. 6 Mon­mouth 11-20.

Last time out: Ni­a­gara lost to Siena 72-65 in over­time on Sun­day at the Gal­lagher Cen­ter in Lewis­ton. Marvin Pro­chet scored 21 points – in­clud­ing the game-ty­ing 3-pointer with 16 sec­onds left in reg­u­la­tion – and had 10 re­bounds, Chris Bar­ton scored 16 points and Greg King had 10 points and 11 re­bounds against the Saints.

Mon­mouth de­feated Man­hat­tan 62-54 on Fri­day in Riverdale; Ray Sal­nave scored 18 points and had nine as­sists and nine re­bounds and Deion Ham­mond added 17 points for the Hawks.

His­tory: Chris Bar­ton scored 22 points and Pro­chet scored 21 as Ni­a­gara de­feated Mon­mouth 75-48 on Jan. 26 in Lewis­ton, the only reg­u­lar-sea­son meet­ing be­tween the two teams this year.

Mon­mouth leads the all-time se­ries, 9-4. Ni­a­gara and Mon­mouth met once in the MAAC Tour­na­ment, when the No. 1 seed Hawks de­feated the No. 9 Pur­ple Ea­gles in the 2017 MAAC quar­ter­fi­nals.

NU is 24-27 in 28 ap­pear­ances at the MAAC Tour­na­ment, and won MAAC ti­tles in 2005 and 2007.

Block party: Do­minic Robb holds Ni­a­gara’s school record for blocked shots (221), which is also the sixth-most among ac­tive NCAA Divi­sion I play­ers.

Robb had a sea­son-high eight blocks in the Pur­ple Ea­gles’ win against St. Bon­aven­ture on Nov. 12. The 6-foot-8 se­nior for­ward leads the MAAC with 65 blocks in 31 games this sea­son and av­er­ages 10.7 points per game. His to­tal blocks and blocks per game (2.1) is 23rd and 30th in the coun­try, and his 65 blocks are the fifth-most in Ni­a­gara’s pro­gram his­tory.

High scorer: Pro­chet, a sec­ondteam All-MAAC se­lec­tion, is a se­nior for­ward who av­er­ages 15.9 points per game. Pro­chet is the con­fer­ence’s only player ranked in the top 10 in four sta­tis­ti­cal cat­e­gories: points per game, re­bounds per game (fourth, 7.2), 3-point field goal per­cent­age (third, 42.8 per­cent) and 3-point­ers per game (fourth, 2.6).

Low seed: Ni­a­gara dropped to the low­est seed in the MAAC tour­na­ment af­ter its loss to Siena on Sun­day, com­bined with Saint Peter’s win against Fairfield, which put Ni­a­gara in a tie with Saint Peter’s and Fairfield for last place in the MAAC at 6-12.

Ni­a­gara went 1-3 against Saint Peter’s and Fairfield this sea­son, which dropped The Pur­ple Ea­gles to 11th in the con­fer­ence af­ter a tiebreaker.

On a neu­tral court: This will be Ni­a­gara’s first game on a neu­tral court this sea­son. The Pur­ple Ea­gles, how­ever, lost to Siena 66-57 on Jan. 17 at the Times Union Cen­ter, which is the Saints’ home court.

The op­po­nent: Sal­nave and Ham­mond each av­er­age 11.9 points for the Hawks, who are one of the MAAC’s low­est scor­ing teams, aver­ag­ing 63.8 points per game. The Hawks have al­lowed an av­er­age of 70.5 points per game, and are last in the con­fer­ence in scor­ing margin (mi­nus-6.7 points).

Mon­mouth is also last in the MAAC in 3-point field-goal per­cent­age (29.5 per­cent, 150 for 509) and last in the con­fer­ence, aver­ag­ing 4.8 3-point­ers a game.

Mon­mouth leads the con­fer­ence in field-goal per­cent­age de­fense (41.8 per­cent, 696 for 1,665) and is third in the con­fer­ence in 3-point field-goal de­fense per­cent­age (35.6 per­cent, 303 for 851).

Who’s next? The win­ner of the first-round game be­tween the Hawks and the Pur­ple Ea­gles will face No. 3 Quin­nip­iac in a quar­ter­fi­nal at 7 p.m. Satur­day.

James P. McCoy/Buf­falo News

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