SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Niagara’s season is over. Is Antoine Mason’s time with the Purple Eagles over as well?
Mason, the nation’s second-leading scorer, went for 28 points in late Saturday night’s 89-80 MAAC Tournament quarterfinal loss to Quinnipiac and, as a fourth-year player with eligibility remaining, can under NCAA rules transfer without sitting out the year.
It could be an attractive option after Niagara suffered through one of its longest seasons, finishing 7-26. At the same time Mason is up to third on the school’s career scoring list with 1,934 points and with one more season would have a solid shot at Calvin Murphy’s storied mark of 2,548. Mason scored 846 points on the season.
“I got to sit down with my parents and talk it over,” Mason said early Sunday morning. “I’m not sure.”
What he’ll have to ponder in part is whether he’ll have comparable freedom as a scorer at another program as he’s had at Niagara.
The wear and tear of the season and constant attention from Zaid Hearst, one of the league’s top defensive guards, seemed to take its toll on Mason in the second half.
“Mason’s very tough to guard,” said Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore. “You really got to scheme and plan and take him into account every trip.”
Quinnipiac (20-10) picked apart Niagara’s defense with cool efficiency.
The Bobcats struck from the outside on the shooting of Shaq Shannon (20 points) and Hearst (15).
They took it inside on the wide shoulders of all-MAAC forward Ike Azotam (18 points) and front-court mate Ousmane Drame (15). They shot 59 percent and change in the first half, 57 percent and change in the second .