No late hours for the Niagara and Canisius men’s and women’s basketball teams in this week’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournaments at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
Unless one or the other advances to the championship game, at 9 p.m. next Monday night, the two men’s teams will play all their games in daytime hours. All the women’s games are scheduled for mornings or afternoons.
It’s possible for Niagara and Canisius to meet in the men’s semifinals. If they do, it will be at 2 p.m. in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday.
Niagara, the No. 1 men’s seed as the MAAC regular season champion, will make its first tournament appearance at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Friday’s prequarterfinal between No. 8 Marist and No. 9 Siena.
Niagara’s game will be followed by a Canisius-Iona quarterfinal. The Griffs and Gaels finished tied in the standings with 11-7 records but Iona won the tiebreaker and was awarded the No. 4 seed by virtue of its 4-2 record against the top three teams in the standings (Niagara, Loyola and Rider) while Canisius was 3-3.
Niagara swept both games from Marist and Siena during the regular season, but had a close call against the Red Foxes in Poughkeepsie. NU escaped with a 57-54 win on a last-second shot by Juan’ya Green with 1.5 seconds left.
“Whoever we’re going to play, it’s going to be a tough, tough game,” said Niagara coach Joe Mihalich, taking some time away Sunday night from viewing videotape of a Marist-Siena game. “I’ve been saying this all year long: The difference between first and 10th place is as marginal as it’s ever been in the history of the league. Nobody’s that much better than anybody else.”
Canisius split home-and-home games with Iona, losing in New Rochelle, 97-87, on Jan. 13 and winning at the Koessler Center, 77-74, Feb. 2.
Sunday’s loss to Siena in Loudonville, cost the Canisius women the No. 6 seed and forced them into an extra game in the prequarterfinal round. As the No. 7, the Griffs must meet No. 10 Saint Peter’s at noon on Thursday in the opening game.
Saint Peter’s won only three MAAC games to finish last in the standings, but one of the three wins was at Canisius, 74-65, perhaps the Griffs’ most disappointing loss of the season. The Griffs had defeated the Peahens in Jersey City, 62-52, earlier.
Niagara, the No. 5 women’s seed, will face No. 4 Rider at 3:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. Niagara will be seeking a third win over the Broncs after triumphing in Lawrenceville, N.J., 61-56, on Jan. 18 and at the Gallagher Center, 64-59, on Feb. 2.
Marist, the defending MAAC women’s champion, went undefeated in the regular season to take the top seed for the tournament.
The Red Foxes will play their first tournament game against the winner of the Loyola (Md.)-Manhattan prequarterfinal.
If the Niagara and Canisius women cross paths, it can only be in the championship game at noon on Sunday.
The Canisius and Niagara women’s teams closed out regular season play with MAAC losses on the road Sunday.
The Purple Eagles fell, 61-52, to Manhattan in Riverdale.
Niagara kept battling back after Manhattan had built a 15-point, second-half lead and trailed by only six, 52-46 with just under three minutes left but could get no closer.
In Loudonville, Siena defeated Canisius, 64-53, the fourth year in a row the Saints have defeated the Griffs on their home floor.
Senior Ashley Wilkes of Canisius posted her fourth double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Kayla Hoohuli had 14 points and four steals while Jamie Ruttle had 11 points and six rebounds.
“When we were trying to dig back into the game in the second half, we were getting stops but couldn’t finish defensive possessions. Those offensive rebounds for Siena were huge,” Canisius coach Terry Zeh said.
Siena grabbed 19 offensive boards.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets in the Canisius fan section in the MAAC tournament can call the Canisius Ticket Office at 888-2885. They also can go online to GoGriffs.com.