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Foes of Niagara, Canisius arrive in ill humor

Niagara and Canisius figure to have some ornery opponents on their hands tonight.

The Purple Eagles host Manhattan at 7 in the Gallagher Center (Radio 1440 AM) with the Jaspers coming off Saturday's 86-75 dumping by Canisius in the Koessler Center. Manhattan is also smarting from Niagara'a 67-51 victory on its home floor Feb. 3.

Meanwhile, Canisius entertains Marist in Koessler (7 p.m., Radio 710 AM) with the visiting Red Foxes trying to hold on to third place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and recover from Saturday's 88-82 loss at Niagara.

Canisius has beaten Marist six straight times, including a 76-67 victory Jan. 5 in Poughkeepsie, but Golden Griffins coach Mike MacDonald isn't simply going to expect recent history to repeat.

"Marist is playing for a championship right now," MacDonald said. "We're playing for our lives to get as far away from the cellar as we can, so we know what we're in for."

Tonight's visitors are both 15-8 overall. Manhattan is second in the MAAC at 11-4 while Marist is third at 9-6. Iona leads at 12-3.

Niagara (10-13, 7-8) is tied with Siena for fifth place, a game behind St. Peter's for the final first-round bye to the MAAC Tournament. Canisius (6-17, 5-10) is ninth.

Niagara has beaten Manhattan in its last two meetings after losing seven straight to the Jaspers. Manhattan coach Bobby Gonzalez is wary of the Purple Eagles now that his star forward, sophomore C.J. Anderson, is on academic suspension.

"Niagara is a bad matchup for us," Gonzalez said. "We are better right now with 'small ball.' Losing C.J. Anderson killed us for the Niagara game because they have those athletic warriors inside in (James) Mathis, (J.R.) Duffey and Clif Brown.

"Niagara has three killers inside. . . . I think we'll play Niagara a little different and a little better, but it's just not a good matchup for us. We thought Canisius was a better matchup (than Niagara), and they beat us."

Canisius' win Saturday was just its second in the last 11 games. The only other victory in that stretch was an 87-71 decision over Fairfield on Jan. 29.

"The Fairfield game was the level we knew we could play at," senior guard Kevin Downey said after scoring 27 points Saturday. "But maintaining that level has been the problem for us. We're happy with this win, but we can't be satisfied. We have to continue believing in ourselves and trusting each other."

It's the final home game of the season for Niagara, which will conclude its season with its BracketBusters game Saturday at Valparaiso and road games at Marist and Siena.

Canisius has one more home game, Saturday against Youngstown State in its BracketBusters affair. The Griffs then finish on the road at St. Peter's and Loyola.


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