What: MAAC Women's Basketball Tournament
Who: No. 8 Niagara vs. No. 9 Fairfield
Tip-off: 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Times Union Center, Albany
Records: Niagara 12-18, Fairfield 10-19
Last time out: Niagara lost to Marist, 82-69, its regular-season finale on Saturday in Poughkeepsie. Adila Gathers recorded her second career double-double and led the Purple Eagles with a career-high 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Maggie McIntyre added 11 points.
Fairfield lost to Rider, 60-53, in its regular-season finale Saturday in Fairfield, Conn. Lou Lopez-Senechal led the Stags with 20 points and Sam Kramer added 11.
History: Niagara and Fairfield split the regular-season series. Jai Moore scored 21 points for the Purple Eagles in a 71-68 overtime win on Jan. 20 at the Gallagher Center. Lopez-Senechal scored 13 points and was one of three scorers in double figures for the Stags in a 55-54 win on Feb. 9 in Connecticut.
Fairfield leads the all-time series 41-22.
This is the sixth time Fairfield and Niagara will meet in the MAAC Tournament, but first since Fairfield won in the quarterfinals of the 2015 tournament.
First-teamer: Niagara guard Jai Moore is a first-team all-MAAC selection. The junior from Brooklyn is the MAAC’s second-leading scorer (17.2 points per game) and is fourth in free-throw percentage (77.6 percent, 104 for 134). She has scored at least 20 points in 12 games this season, including a career-best 31 points on Dec. 31 in a 74-69 win against Colgate.
Moore helped the Purple Eagles become the fourth-highest scoring offense in the conference (61.0 points per game).
On a slide: The Purple Eagles enter the tournament on a five-game losing streak. Niagara's last win came in a 74-52 win against Canisius on Feb. 13 at the Gallagher Center.
The opponent: The Stags enter the MAAC tournament with three players who average double figures in scoring: Khadidiatou Diouf (11.1 points), Katie Armstrong (10.6 points) and Lopez-Senechal (11.4 points), a forward who was a unanimous selection to the MAAC women’s all-rookie team.
Diouf, a 6-foot-3 forward from Senegal, averages 7.6 rebounds a game and has 15 blocks, while Armstrong has 12 blocks. Diouf, a fifth-year senior, was a third-team all-MAAC selection. The Stags are third in the MAAC in scoring defense (59.6 points) but have struggled to score. Opponents have outscored Fairfield 59.6-55.6 in 18 games, and Fairfield’s highest output this season was 72 points in a win Feb. 7 against Canisius.
Casey Foley, a guard, leads the Stags with 65 steals.
Next? The winner of this first-round game will face No. 1 Quinnipiac (23-6), the two-time defending MAAC champion, at 1 p.m. Friday in a quarterfinal at the Times Union Center.