Niagara (13-8, 9-1 MAAC) puts its nine-game winning streak and its hold on first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on the line tonight when the Iona Gaels (14-7, 8-2 MAAC) visit the Gallagher Center (Radio 1520, 7 p.m.).
The Purple Eagles’ longest winning streak ever in the MAAC began after an 83-72 loss to Iona in New Rochelle on Nov. 28. Since then, coach Joe Mihalich’s team has won 11 of 15, including the last six in a row.
Iona has defeated Saint Peter’s and Loyola in its most recent games since an upset loss at Rider last week.
The MAAC showdown matches the two highest-scoring teams in the conference and the three top scorers in the league — Lamont “Momo” Jones (22.3) and Sean Armand (18.4) of the Gaels and Antoine Mason (18.1) of Niagara.
Two other MAAC first division teams, Canisius (13-8, 6-4 MAAC) and Loyola (15-7, 7-3 MAAC) will meet tonight at the Koessler Center (Radio 1400, 7 p.m.).
It will be the last visit to Koessler as a member of the MAAC for Loyola. The Baltimore school is leaving to join the Patriot League in 2013-14. Canisius saw a three-game win streak ended by Niagara (66-65) on Sunday afternoon when what would have been a winning basket by Billy Baron of the Griffs failed to beat the final buzzer. Coach Jim Patsos’ Loyola team had a three-game win streak end in a home loss to Iona on Sunday. Junior Dylan Cormier leads Loyola with a 17.6 ppg average. Loyola has won five of its last seven trips to Koessler in the rivalry between the Jesuit colleges.
In women’s basketball, the University at Buffalo (6-13, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) will begin a stretch of six road games in eight encounters when it faces Miami (13-6, 5-1) today in Oxford, Ohio (Radio 1340, noon). UB is coming off a strong defensive effort in a 64-44 win over Western Michigan last Saturday.
Niagara (9-10, 4-4 MAAC) also will be on the road, facing Loyola (7-12, 2-6) at Reitz Arena in Baltimore at 7 p.m. Last year, Niagara ended a 16-game losing streak in Reitz Arena. The Purple Eagles are led by center Lauren Gatto (14.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg).