The second week of MAAC play brought as many surprises as the first. We have a new top team this week (but one that’s been there before!) after winless Siena upset undefeated Canisius, proving just how wide-open the league is this year. There is plenty of movement in the middle of the rankings as well after Niagara evened its record at 2-2 and Manhattan dropped a pair.
With plenty to look into, let’s dive right in!
1) Rider (10-6, 3-1 MAAC) – 96-77 W vs. Fairfield (1/5); 82-76 W @ Manhattan (1/7)
Rider would be the most dominant team in the MAAC if it could hit free throws. Despite possessing one of the MAAC’s most dynamic offenses headlined by a pair of fantastic freshmen and all-league point guard Stevie Jordan, the Broncs live on the edge with their struggles from the charity stripe.
Rider’s 62.2% conversion rate is one of the bottom ten in the nation, and that average dips even further down to 53.5% during league play. The Broncs possess the league’s top offense and the defense has held its own, but the one-point loss to Canisius to open the conference slate could portend future issues as Kevin Baggett attempts to lead his team past the conference quarterfinals for the first time.
For the time being though, Rider is as good as it gets in the MAAC. The Broncs eviscerated Fairfield behind a career-high 25 points on 8-11 shooting and five three-pointers from freshman Frederick Scott. The Indiana native followed that up with a 19 point, 14 rebound performance against Manhattan. Scott has finished in double figures scoring in all but three games this year, and is shooting 65.6% from the field over his last six games.
Dimencio Vaughn added 14 points in each game this week, including the go-ahead bucket during Rider’s 15-5 run to close their come-from-behind win at Manhattan. Tyere Marshall matched a career high with 13 rebounds against the Jaspers, and put up 20 points to capture his fifth double-double of the season.
2) Iona (9-7, 3-1 MAAC) – 73-69 W vs. Saint Peter’s (1/5); 84-65 W vs. Fairfield (1/7)
The Gaels appeared headed for a 1-2 start to league play after Sam Idowu’s free throws put Saint Peter’s up 58-48 with 4:24 remaining Friday night, but Iona’s offense exploded and Tim Cluess’ squad grabbed the lead less than two minutes later.
Schadrac Casimir’s three-pointer with 2:30 left to play put Iona on top 59-58, and the Gaels never looked back. Well, not entirely. In the waning seconds, Rickey McGill did look back to see forward T.K. Edogi trailing on a breakaway. The point guard left a pass off the backboard which Edogi hammered home for the exclamation point.
— Iona Men’s Hoops (@IonaGaelsMBB) January 8, 2018
Iona kept the momentum going with a runaway win over Fairfield highlighted by a career-high 32 points from Deyshonee Much. The senior knocked down 6-of-10 from behind the arc and packed the box score with seven assists, six rebounds, and three steals. Edogi picked up his fourth double-double of the season on 11 points and 12 rebounds while McGill added 13 points and seven assists of his own.
The Gaels continue their home stand against Siena and Rider this week.
3) Canisius (9-8, 3-1 MAAC) – 82-74 W @ Quinnipiac (1/5); 65-62 L @ Siena (1/7)
The Golden Griffins got off to a hot start, able to fend off Quinnipiac to improve to 3-0 in MAAC play for just the third time in program history.
The Griffs put together an excellent offensive showing against the Bobcats behind 20 points and five assists from sophomore Isaiah Reese. He and Jermaine Crumpton combined to shoot 8-11 from behind the arc. Freshman Scott Hitchon also chipped in with a season-best eight points as the Griffs dished out 17 assists against just five turnovers.
A trip to winless Siena seemed like just a formality, but morphed into a disaster. The Saints held Canisius to just 6-26 from behind the arc and handed the Griffs their first league loss as Crumpton’s bid to even things at the buzzer fell off the mark.
This was the third occasion this season Canisius had been held to fewer than eight three-pointers, with a record of 1-4 in those contests. If nothing else, the Griff’s misstep proves there will be no gimme games in the MAAC this year.
4) Saint Peter’s (8-7, 2-2 MAAC) – 73-69 L @ Iona (1/5); 84-58 W vs. Quinnipiac (1/7)
The Peacocks looked home free after opening up a 10-point lead at Iona with 4:24 remaining, but no victory ever comes easy in New Rochelle. At least not for the visiting team. KenPom’s win probability gave Saint Peter’s a 94.4% chance to close out the win, but Iona exploded for 25 points in the final 4:05 and pulled out the victory.
Saint Peter’s didn’t stay down for long, as the Peacocks responded with a tremendous all-around effort against Quinnipiac over the weekend. Nick Griffin led the way with 22 points on 5-8 shooting from distance. It was Griffin’s fourth 20+ point game of the season after coming into the year with just one.
Elijah Gonzales added 15 points with a career-high nine assists and has officially entered the conversation for what promises to be a competitive All-Rookie squad. Overall, Saint Peter’s shot a stellar 61.5% with a 57.1% mark from behind the arc while limiting Quinnipiac to just 29.1% shooting. With the win, the Peacocks improved to 5-0 this season on their home court at the Yanitelli Center.
The Peacocks have played well and actually own the league’s top effective field goal percentage (56.6%) during league play. However, turnovers have hindered the squad in its two losses. Saint Peter’s will travel to western New York this weekend to square off against Canisius and Niagara.
5) Niagara (9-8, 2-2 MAAC) – 84-76 W @ Siena (1/5); 86-70 W @ Marist (1/7)
The Purple Eagles righted the ship after an 0-2 start, but did so against two of the league’s weaker squads in Siena and Marist. Despite the pair of wins, three-point shooting remains a concern for Chris Casey’s group; The Purple Eagles’ long-range mark of 27.2% in conference play ranks worst in the MAAC.
On the interior, Marvin Prochet has continued to elevate his game during league play. The junior picked up 20 points and 11 rebounds against Siena, and is averaging 16.5 ppg and 11.0 rpg against MAAC squads. Niagara also possesses the league’s top two rebounders as Prochet heads the list at 8.6 rpg while Matt Scott checks in second at 8.1 rpg.
Niagara trailed Marist early in the second half, but an ensuing 23-6 run propelled the Purple Eagles out in front for good. Scott was again spectacular with 23 points and 15 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season.
The Purple Eagles will get an opportunity to test their mettle this weekend as Monmouth and Saint Peter’s make the trip north.
6) Manhattan (7-9, 2-2 MAAC) – 77-66 L @ Monmouth (1/5); 82-76 L vs. Rider (1/7)
The Jaspers fell back to earth this week, and in the process became Monmouth’s first MAAC victim this season. Manhattan played the Hawks tough through halftime, but a 17-0 Monmouth run early in the second stanza propelled King Rice’s squad over the top. Rich Williams posted 20 points on 7-10 shooting in the loss, and has now reached double figures in his last three games.
Manhattan endured another tough stretch against a New Jersey squad when Rider erased a double digit deficit and closed on a 15-5 run to steal a victory in the Bronx Sunday evening. Thomas Capuano posted a season-high 17 points in the defeat while Zavier Turner had 16 points and nine assists.
The Jaspers will look to get back on track against Fairfield and Siena this week, but have yet to win in Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena during head coach Steve Masiello’s seven-year tenure.
7) Quinnipiac (5-11, 2-2 MAAC) – 82-74 L vs. Canisius (1/5); 84-58 L @ Saint Peter’s (1/7)
The Bobcats faced a wake-up call after their dream 2-0 start. Baker Dunleavy’s squad found itself trailing Canisius 48-34, but was able to cut the deficit to just two with little over four minutes left to play. Quinnipiac could not complete the comeback but saw some encouraging signs including a career-high 16 rebounds from junior forward Abdulai Bundu.
With some momentum back in their favor, the Bobcats instead fell flat at Saint Peter’s two days later. The Peacocks built a 15 point lead at halftime and never looked back, limiting Quinnipiac to just 16-55 shooting and 9-34 from behind the arc.
Chaise Daniels has steadily worked his way back into playing shape following a three game leave of absence last month. The senior posted 11 points against Canisius and added 16 at Saint Peter’s while playing 20+ minutes for the first time since his return.
8) Monmouth (5-10, 1-2 MAAC) – 77-66 W vs. Manhattan (1/5)
The Hawks hadn’t played a home game in nearly a month, but a return to the OceanFirst Bank Center was just what the doctor ordered for King Rice’s squad. Monmouth found itself trailing early, but a 10-0 run late in the first half helped them even things at halftime. A 17-0 spurt after the break gave the Hawks plenty of cushion to fend off the Jaspers and pick up their first MAAC win of the season.
Junior forward Diago Quinn led the way with a career-high 19 points while freshman guard Deion Hammond poured in 17. Perhaps an encouraging sign for the Hawks, they picked up the victory without star guard Micah Seaborn, who remains questionable with an ankle injury suffered on New Year’s Eve at Saint Peter’s.
The Hawks’ homecoming did not last long, however. Monmouth is back on the road this weekend on the swing to western New York to take on Niagara Friday before facing Canisius on Sunday.
9) Fairfield (6-9, 1-3 MAAC) – 96-77 L @ Rider (1/5); 84-65 L @ Iona (1/7)
The Stags had a week to forget with double digit road losses to two of the league’s leaders. Sydney Johnson’s crew couldn’t get much going against Rider as they trailed the Broncs by double figures throughout the second half.
Matters didn’t improve much Sunday when Deyshonee Much went berserk and Iona closed on a 17-5 run to pull away late. Tyler Nelson led the way in both games with 21 against Rider and 16 at Iona, but the three-ball continues to be an issue for the Stags.
As a team, Fairfield is shooting just 40% from the field and 30% from behind the arc over its three game losing streak, which has come entirely on the road. Fortunately the Stags will finally head home to face Manhattan on Thursday. The Jaspers narrowly defeated Fairfield 61-58 earlier this season, but have not won in Bridgeport since 2013.
10) Siena (5-12, 1-3 MAAC) – 84-76 L vs. Niagara (1/5); 65-62 W vs. Canisius (1/7)
Junior guard and leading scorer Nico Clareth (15.1 ppg) has officially parted ways with the program after sitting out the last two games, but that didn’t stop Siena from picking up its first league win over previously undefeated Canisius.
Siena was just 4-13 from long-range against the Golden Griffins, but one of those triples came from freshman Jordan Horn to break a tie with just 5.4 seconds remaining. Horn had been quiet much of the season, but broke through with a season-high 29 points in the loss to Niagara before delivering the biggest shot of the season on Sunday.
Horn has earned a larger share of playing time since Clareth’s departure, averaging 34 minutes per game over his last two, but sophomore Ahsante Shivers has seen his time increase as well. Shivers came through with a team-leading 18 points on 7-11 shooting over 36 minutes in the win over Canisius.
The frontcourt has been solid of late as well. Freshman Prince Oduro has posted double figures in his last two with a career-high 19 points against Niagara while Evan Fisher came through with 16 points against Canisius and is shooting 62.5% over his last three games.
Siena hits the road for four of its next five games, beginning with trips to Iona Thursday and Manhattan Saturday.
11) Marist (3-12, 1-2 MAAC) – 86-70 L vs. Niagara (1/7)
The Red Foxes led Niagara 41-40 at halftime and held a six point lead five minutes into the second period, but went without a field goal for nearly ten minutes as they watched the Purple Eagles soar past.
Marist well to contain Niagara’s potent offense, limiting the Purple Eagles to just 6-23 (26.1%) from three-point range, but the Red Foxes sent Niagara to the line 28 times as their own offense went dry.
Brian Parker continued his candidacy for All-MAAC recognition with 21 points, six rebounds, and five assists in the loss. It was the junior’s sixth game this season with 20 or more points. Meanwhile, fellow junior Ryan Funk has appeared to find his stride. Funk has hit double figures in his last three games and is shooting 40.3% from behind the arc this season.
The Red Foxes head to Quinnipiac Wednesday night before playing host to Fairfield over the weekend.
Vincent Simone covers the MAAC, Hofstra, and more for NYC Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.