Both ends of tonight’s Niagara-Canisius basketball doubleheader at the Koessler Athletic Center will affect the race for the top four seeds in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.
The Canisius men (13-15, 10-6 MAAC) will face Niagara (12-17, 5-11) at 7:30 p.m. following the 5 p.m. women’s game between Niagara (12-16, 8-8 MAAC) and Canisius (10-17, 8-8). Niagara will be looking for a sweep of season series in both games.
The Golden Griffins men, who dropped out of first place and into a four-way tie for second in the MAAC with an 87-80 loss Sunday at Iona, needs to win, it would seem, for a chance of finishing first in the conference. Iona (11-6) is alone in first place but has a tough road game at Rider (10-6) on Friday.
Siena and Quinnipiac also are at 10-6.
Beyond first place, the five teams are aiming to finish in top four in the MAAC standings to receive a first-round bye in the conference tournament, which opens in Albany next week.
Niagara defeated Canisius, 78-70, in Lewiston on Jan 30. Since then, the Purple Eagles have gone 1-6 while Canisius is 5-3.
Canisius never had the lead against Niagara in their previous meeting. A significant occurrence in that game was the benching of Canisius junior Isaiah Reese and his ultimate suspension by coach Reggie Witherspoon. Reese has not played since that game, when he was scoreless in only eight minutes.
Marvin Prochet had 23 points against the Griffs. Dominic Robb had 14 points and three blocked shots on his way to tying the NU career record for blocks previously held by Joe Arlauckas. Robb will break Arlauckas’ mark with one block tonight.
The Niagara-Canisius women’s game, obviously, will break at tie between the teams for fourth place in the MAAC. Monmouth, Siena and Manhattan also are 8-8. The fourth-place finisher will earn a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
Junior Jai Moore scored 30 points to lead Niagara to a 74-52 win over Canisius in their first meeting. It was Niagara’s first regular-season win over the Griffs since the 2013-14 season and first overall since the 2015-16 MAAC tournament.
Moore is second in the MAAC in scoring at 17.2 points per game.
Senior forward Sara Hinriksdottir leads Canisius at 13.6 points per game and had a season high 24 points in a 65-56 win over Monmouth on Sunday, helping the Griffs snap a five-game losing streak.
Niagara has dropped its last three games.