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Pregame Prep: Niagara aims for 3rd straight win vs. Manhattan


Manhattan at Niagara

7 p.m. Thursday at the Gallagher Center

Radio 1440

Records: Niagara 7-14, 4-6. Manhattan 7-14, 2-8.

The Set-Up: Niagara has had two good wins in a row - over St. Peter's and Canisius. Can the Purple Eagles keep it going? Matt Scott leads Niagara in scoring at 17.1 ppg. Manhattan was picked for sixth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in preseason but the Jaspers lost their best player, wing Rich Williams, to a season-ending knee injury. That was a huge loss. Manhattan has lost three straight but all were to top-end MAAC teams (Iona, Monmouth, Siena).

First Meeting: Manhattan won, 78-69, on Jan. 10. Niagara was up, 50-40, with 15 minutes to play but made 11 turnovers in the final 15 minutes to squander the lead.

Style: Manhattan likes to play a high-pressure defense and is fourth in the MAAC in forcing turnovers. The Jaspers are LAST IN THE NATION in fouls, making 26 a game. Niagara is 245th in fouls, making 19 a game. So this game could last until Sunday.

Size edge: Manhattan has 6-9 junior Zane Waterman (14.1 ppg), 7-2 junior college transfer Ahmed Ismail (4.2 ppg) and 6-8 junior Calvin Crawford (8.4 ppg). Ismail sat out for disciplinary reasons the first Niagara game.

Three-pointers? Niagara is 27th in the nation in three-point shooting percentage, making 38.9 percent. Manhattan is last in the MAAC and 318th in the nation in defending the 3 (.386).

Turnovers: Manhattan 5-9 guard Zavier Turner, a transfer from Ball State, averages 16.3 ppg. Turnovers have been a problem for the Jaspers. They've cut down on their rate in conference play, but they averaged 18 a game in the last three losses (albeit to quality competition).

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