Niagara Gazette — Niagara University’s big three winter sports kick off the final weekends of their regular seasons with conference games tonight.
NU’s men’s basketball team makes its first trip to Monmouth for a 7 p.m. start in the Hawks’ inaugural season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. NU hockey opens its final homestand at 7:05 p.m. against Air Force at Dwyer Arena, while the women’s basketball team hosts Rider at 7 p.m. in the Gallagher Center.
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The men’s hoops team and Monmouth have split the two previous meetings with the Hawks winning the most recent encounter, 85-74, on Jan. 10 in the first meeting as MAAC opponents. Niagara (6-23, 3-15 MAAC) sits in second-last place in the conference, but a pair of wins this weekend could push it past the Hawks (10-19, 4-14 MAAC) heading into the tournament.
Junior guard Antoine Mason has a chance to climb another notch on NU’s all-time scoring list. He moved into fourth all-time on Feb. 20 against Fairfield and 17 points against Monmouth would push him into third. Mason is currently second in the country in scoring at 25.7 points per game.
The game will also mark a homecoming for NU senior Marcus Ware, who transferred to Monteagle Ridge for this season after spending three years with the Hawks. Ware had six points and four rebounds in 16 minutes in the Jan. 10 game.
Fans can listen live to all of the action on ESPN 1520 AM and free online through Purple Eagles All-Access.
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The Niagara hockey team (10-17-5, 10-10-5 Atlantic Hockey Association) enters the final weekend of the regular season tied with Canisius with 25 points each in the AHA standings, but NU wins the tiebreaker against the Griffs for possession of sixth place. The Purple Eagles can finish as high as sixth in the league standings, and no lower than eighth, ensuring NU will play a first-round series for the first time since becoming a member of the AHA in 2010-11
Last weekend the Purple Eagles went 0-1-1 against Mercyhurst in a two-game tilt, drawing 3-3 on Friday, while falling the Lakers 4-2 on Saturday.
NU’s Ryan Rashid can hit a milestone if he registers a point against the Falcons. One points would give the senior 20 on the season, making him the first Purple Eagle to register four straight 20-point seasons since Chris Moran from 2006-07 through 2009-10.
The Hawks are currently 19-11-4 overall and 14-8-3 in league play.
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The NU women (8-18, 7-11 MAAC) fell to Rider (13-14, 9-9 MAAC) 82-72 on Feb. 9. The two teams are separated by two games in the standings. Rider has split its last two games, handed Iona its first conference loss of the season in overtime, 92-90, and currently occupies fifth place. Niagara has also split its last two games and is in a tie for seventh.
Niagara went a perfect 3-0 against the Broncs last season. NU swept the series, winning the first game at home, 62-58, and the tilt on the road, 64-59, before topping the Broncs in the MAAC Tournament Semifinals, 59-54.
Purple Eagle fans will be able to follow all of Friday’s action on PurpleEagles.com. There will be a live video broadcast with announcers Bob Vail, Nick Accordino, and Rob Lunder. Fans will also be able to follow along with live stats.