Both the Niagara men’s and women’s teams will be in action today when the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball championships open at MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
The Purple Eagles women (10-19, 8-12) will face Monmouth (7-24, 6-14) at 9:30 a.m. Twelve and a half hours later (10 p.m.) the Niagara (6-25, 3-17) men will face Marist (12-18, 9-11) in a first-round game.
The Niagara men have lost 10 straight since an 80-74 triumph over Marist on Jan. 24. Marist returned the favor eight days later, 78-64, in Poughkeepsie.
All season long, the Purple Eagles have been led by junior guard Antoine Mason, the second-leading scorer in the nation, with 780 points and a 25.2 average.
The Niagara women defeated Monmouth twice during the regular season – 48-45 on Jan. 19 at the Gallagher Center and 85-67 on Feb. 22 in West Long Branch, N.J. Freshman Victoria Rampado scored 23 and 20 points for Niagara in the two victories.
The Canisius women’s team will swing into action at 2:30 p.m. on Friday against Quinnipiac. The Canisius men don’t play until Saturday when they face Siena at 2:30 p.m.
The University at Buffalo women (16-12, 9-8 MAC) rallied from 10 down to take a four-point second half lead, but Akron (20-8, 14-3 MAC) came on to defeat the Bulls, 79-71, in their Mid-American Conference game Wednesday night at Alumni Arena. A basket by Jenna Rickan (Kenmore West) gave UB a 65-61 lead with 4:20 to play but Akron moved in front for good, 67-65, on a shot by Rachel Tecca with 2:35 left.
Kristen Sharkey had 20 points and Mackenzie Loesing 18 for UB. Tecca had 23 for the Zips.
The loss dropped UB into a tie with Toledo for fourth place in the MAC.
Elsewhere, sophomore Katie Healy (Lancaster) of St. Bonaventure was named first team All-Atlantic 10 and the Most Improved Player in the conference.
Also, Bona coach Jim Crowley was named A-10 Coach of the Year.
Bona’s Hannah Little was named A-10 Sixth Woman of the Year and Nyla Rueter made All-A10 third-team.