Niagara Gazette — The Niagara women’s basketball team comes out of the Christmas break and opens up its Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference schedule against the newly-minted conference rival Quinnipiac at 1 p.m. today.
While this matchup with be the first conference tilt of 2013-14 for the Purple Eagles (2-7, 0-0 MAAC), this will be the third for the Bobcats (6-6, 1-1). They were welcomed to the MAAC with a 69-63 loss to Marist on Dec. 6 before last Dec. 21’s 65-55 win over Canisius.
Niagara will look to improve on its starts over the past two seasons. In 2011-12 the team began the MAAC schedule 2-3 on its way to a 9-9 overall record. The following year, the team flipped the script and went 3-2 through its first five but ultimately finished with a 9-9 record.
The Purple Eagles have seen an improvement in the frontcourt over two of the last three games. If you subtract the matchup against the ACC’s Syracuse Orange, the Purple Eagles have scored 75.5 ppg in the two games against Robert Morris (Dec. 7) and Buffalo (Dec. 21). In those two contests they hit 44.5 percent of their chances from the floor (up from 37.9 percent for the season) while holding opponents to 36.6 percent (down from 40.4 percent for the season).
So far this year, Quinnipiac leads the MAAC with 72.4 points and 16.7 assists per game. Niagara is fifth in scoring at 61.7 and seventh with 13.8 assists.
Both teams enter Sunday’s action with three players averaging over 10 points per game. Val McQuade, who is coming off a 31-point effort against Buffalo, leads the Purple and White with 11.9 ppg. Chanel Johnson and Meghan McGuinness are a quick two/three combo with 10.7 ppg and 10.4 ppg, respectively. On the other side, Jasmine Martin, a junior guard, leads the Bobcats with 15.7 ppg. The team’s only starting senior, Brittany McQuain, is second with 11.4 ppg and Gillian Abshire is third with an even 10.0 ppg.