By Jonah Bronstein
Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Purple Eagles and coach Joe Mihalich have been going to Baltimore to battle with the Loyola Greyhounds for almost a quarter century.
Tonight's game at Reitz Arena (7:30 p.m., WWKB 1520) could be the beginning of a rivalry's end.
For the moment, Jimmy Patsos' Greyhounds are the proud champions and early-season favorite in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
But at seasons' end, Loyola, which joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with Niagara in 1989, will defect for the Patriot League.
Mihalich has 25 of his 248 career wins against Loyola, more than any other opponent. But Loyola is also one of the schools that passed on hiring Mihalich when he was the top assistant at LaSalle, then the top team in the MAAC.
MAAC officials are reportedly set to raid the Northeast Conference for expansion — Quinnipiac and Monmouth are the most likely additions, according to the Connecticut Post — and school presidents are scheduled to meet Dec. 14 in New York City.
Meanwhile, the Greyhounds (7-2), who will come to the Gallagher Center on Groundhog Day, are off to their second-best start in school history. Preseason player of the year Erik Etherly is averaging 15.7 points and 8.0 rebounds and Dylan Cormier is leading the team in scoring at 17.7 ppg.
Niagara (2-5) has lost three road games in a row, including its conference opener last Wednesday at Iona. Antoine Mason has scored 24 points in back-to-back games and is averaging 19.3 ppg, third in the conference.
The Purple Eagles have won their last five games at Reitz Arena, but have lost two straight to Loyola, most recently in the MAAC quarterfinals.
The Niagara County Community College men's basketball team improved to 7-3 on the season with a 111-39 victory Tuesday of Medaille's JV squad.
Isaiah Johnson led the Thunderwolves with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals. Kushan Hunter had 16 points and seven rebounds. Jon Marsh had 16 points. Jacob Hughes had 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Jordan Street had 11 rebounds.