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Niagara's good fortune?

BRIDGEPORT,  Conn. -- Did Niagara get a break when top-seeded Marist was upset Sunday night in the MAAC semifinals? Nope. The Purple Eagles actually matched up better with the Red Foxes than they do with Siena, which pulled the tourney's big upset in the first semi. The Saints have a powerful post player in senior Michael Haddix and some terrific slashers in sophomore Kenny Hasbrouck and freshman Edwin Ubiles, matchups that could give Niagara trouble.

Marist's frontcourt players aren't bruisers, so low post play wouldn't have been nearly the issue it might be tonight.

Siena beat Niagara twice this season but the Purple Eagles have murmured for several weeks they'd like to see the Saints again because Charron Fisher (suspension) missed the first game and Tyrone Lewis (injury) sat out the second one. Be careful what you wish for. Purple Eagle fans still have nightmares about the 92-77 beating their team took in the 2002 final at Siena, the night rookie coach Rob Lanier's team battered Niagara for 22 layups.

That won't happen tonight and many observers here are picking Niagara to win. But Siena was the only team to sweep Niagara this season, and this will be a huge task.

---Mike Harrington

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