1) Rider (17-7, 10-2 MAAC) – 74-59 W @ Quinnipiac (2/4)
The Broncs retain their spot atop this week’s rankings after becoming the first team to reach 10 league wins. Stevie Jordan led four Broncs in double figures in the win at Quinnipiac. The sophomore point guard was 7-11 from the field, with six assists.
Dimencio Vaughn added 16 points with a personal-best four steals, while Frederick Scott posted 15 points on 7-11 shooting and Tyere Marshall chipped in with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Rider has now won six games in a row for the first time since the 2014-15 season, when it finished 15-5 in conference play. The Broncs are in the driver’s seat for the top seed in March’s conference tournament, and will play four of their last six games at home. Rider is 8-1 this season within the friendly confines of Alumni Gymnasium in Lawrenceville.
2) Canisius (15-9, 9-2 MAAC) – 73-67 W @ Marist (2/2); 73-58 W @ Saint Peter’s (2/4)
During the Griffs’ win at Marist, Jermaine Crumpton and Takal Molson became the first Canisius duo to record double-doubles in the same game since Jordan Heath and current Carolina Panthers Tight End Chris Manhertz did so on Dec. 29, 2013.
Molson posted 21 points and 10 rebounds while Crumpton added 18 points with 16 boards as the Griffs battled back in the second half to earn the victory. Marist led by seven with 9:26 to play, but Canisius then rattled off a 22-6 run over a 9:02 period in which the Red Foxes were held to just one field goal. Isaiah Reese also notched 21 points in the win.
Jonathan Sanks scored a career-high 14 points while Malik Johnson dished out eight assists on Sunday as the Griffs earned the season sweep of Saint Peter’s. Johnson has now appeared in 58 games over the course of his young career, and notched five or more assists in half of those contests.
3) Iona (15-9, 9-3 MAAC) – 87-82 W (2OT) vs. Quinnipiac (2/2); 98-64 W @ Marist (2/4)
The Gaels held a seven point lead over Quinnipiac with just 54 seconds remaining in regulation, but an improbable four consecutive missed free throws opened the door for the Bobcats to tie it. Roland Griffin poured in 20 points, and his jumper late in the second overtime eventually proved the difference-maker in a thriller you can read all about here.
Iona seemed to have its fill over overtime by Sunday, as the Gaels made the trip to Poughkeepsie and throttled a Marist team that has been able to put a scare into much of the league.
Deyshonee Much led the way with 21 points on 7-9 three-point shooting while E.J. Crawford finished 4-7 behind the arc for 18 points. Griffin and Schadrac Casimir added 10 points apiece as the Gaels shot 53.7% from the field and made 15 threes.
Hot on the heels of the league leaders, Iona will have an opportunity to make a run this week against Monmouth, Saint Peter’s, and Siena.
4) Niagara (15-10, 8-4 MAAC) – 58-52 L @ Saint Peter’s (2/2); 96-91 W @ Monmouth (2/4)
The league’s top scoring offense was shut down Friday night when the Purple Eagles (83.6 ppg) were held to their lowest total in two years. Niagara’s 52 points were 20 fewer than any other game this season as the team shot a season-low 27.1% from the field.
Niagara rebounded nicely from its dull effort in Jersey City with a strong offensive outing on the shore. behind a career-high 37 points from Kahlil Dukes. The senior point guard earned his 1,000th career point as a Purple Eagle against Saint Peter’s and continues to leave his mark on the record books. Dukes leads the MAAC with a .913 free throw percentage, and has tied the program record for consecutive makes from the charity stripe with an ongoing streak of 27.
The win at Monmouth was Niagara’s ninth on the road this season, the program’s most since the 2008-09 season, and marked the Purple Eagles’ first season sweep of the Hawks since Monmouth joined the MAAC in 2013. Niagara will play four of its final six games at home, with only trips to Iona and Manhattan remaining.
5) Quinnipiac (9-15, 6-6 MAAC) – 87-82 L (2OT) @ Iona (2/2); 74-59 L vs. Rider (2/4)
The Bobcats have been one of the league’s biggest surprises in their first season under head coach Baker Dunleavy. Despite an 0-2 week, Quinnipiac remains in position to earn a first-round bye in the conference tournament come March.
Cameron Young poured in a career-high 31 points in the 2OT loss at Iona, becoming the first Bobcat with a 30+ point outing since Ousmane Drame dropped 33 on Vermont on Nov. 30, 2014. Freshman Jacob Rigoni added 16 points, and backed that up with another 12 in the loss to Rider. Rigoni has reached double figures in seven of his last eight games and continues to maintain a 50% average from three-point range.
Quinnipiac was sloppy against the Broncs, but narrowed what was a double-digit deficit to three points with 9:37 remaining. However, Rider responded with a 7-0 run to put the game out of reach down the stretch. Young led the way once more with 18 points while Chaise Daniels added 12 and now stands just 24 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
6) Fairfield (10-13, 5-7 MAAC) – 79-78 W @ Monmouth (2/2); 78-65 W vs. Siena (2/5)
Don’t look now, but the Stags have won three in a row for the first time this season and are beginning to make a charge toward the top half of the league. Tyler Nelson continues to strengthen his case for MAAC Player of the Year. Over this three game span, Nelson has averaged 28.3 ppg while shooting 53.8% from the field and 50% from behind the arc.
Nelson leads the MAAC in scoring with 21.8 ppg, and continues his ascent up the all-time scoring list at Fairfield. After his 27-point outing against Siena, Nelson now sits at 1,941 for his career, just 65 points shy of Tony George for the program lead.
Monday’s win also marked the 100th in Sydney Johnson’s tenure as head coach of the Stags. Johnson previously compiled a 66-53 record over four seasons as coach of the Princeton Tigers before joining Fairfield.
7) Manhattan (11-13, 6-6 MAAC) – 51-47 W @ Siena (2/2)
The Jaspers got the job done against Siena, but it wasn’t pretty. The 51 points actually marks Manhattan’s lowest total of the season and the fewest scored in a win since infamously defeating Fairfield 34-31 on Mar. 1, 2013.
Manhattan scored only 23 points in the first half and trailed by nine at the break, but an 11-0 run midway through the second half gave Steve Masiello’s team a 42-39 lead. Zane Waterman provided the game’s final field goal on a layup with 2:38 remaining as the Jaspers limited Siena to just 15 second-half points.
Siena’s bid to tie the game in the waning seconds fell short as Pauly Paulicap came up with his third block of the game on Ahsante Shivers’ layup attempt. Paulicap led Manhattan with 13 points and 13 rebounds while Rich Williams also notched a double-double on 10 points and 11 rebounds.
8) Monmouth (7-16, 3-8 MAAC) – 79-78 L vs. Fairfield (2/2); 96-91 L vs. Niagara (2/4)
Perhaps no team in the MAAC has endured more bad beats this season than Monmouth. Four of the Hawks’ eight league losses this season have come by a combined seven points. One of those close calls came Friday, when Jesus Cruz’s runner with 2.1 seconds remaining lifted Fairfield over the Hawks.
Zac Tillman led Monmouth with a career-high 18 points against the Stags while making all 10 of his free throw attempts for a new personal best. Freshan Ray Salnave scored 16 while Austin Tilghman added 14 points and nine assists.
Tilghman added another nine assists in the Hawks’ loss to Niagara in which five Hawks scored in double figures for the second time this season. Louie Pillari led the team with 18 points while Melik Martin poured in a career-high 17 in his second consecutive start. Deion Hammond added 14 points to reach double digits for the sixth straight game.
Now riding a three-game losing streak, the road ahead doesn’t get much brighter for King Rice’s squad. Micah Seaborn has now missed three games in a row with lingering injuries as Monmouth will head to Iona on Thursday with future dates against Canisius and Rider looming.
9) Saint Peter’s (9-14, 3-9 MAAC) – 58-52 W vs. Niagara (2/2); 73-58 L vs. Canisius (2/4)
Saint Peter’s finally put the skids on its six-game losing streak thanks to a lockdown defensive effort against the league’s best offense, proving no outcome in certain in the MAAC this season.
The Peacocks held Niagara to a season low 52 points on 27.1% shooting and held the duo of Kahlil Dukes and Matt Scott to a combined eight field goals. Nick Griffin led all scorers with 20 points in the win, the fifth time this season Griffin has cracked the 20-point threshold. Sam Idowu added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Unfortunately, the winning streak ended before it could start, as Saint Peter’s couldn’t keep up with Canisius on Sunday. A 15-3 Golden Griffin run to end the first half spelled the Peacocks’ doom as Canisius got away late.
Saint Peter’s is known for playing at a slow clip, but that style puts a premium on each offensive possession. Of late, the inability to come up with crucial points has led to losses for John Dunne’s crew.
Over their last five games, the Peacocks have held opponents to 63.0 ppg, but Saint Peter’s is 1-4 in that span. That is because over those five games, Saint Peter’s is scoring just 58.0 ppg, down from a season average of 66.3 ppg. If the Peacocks are able to get those extra three or four baskets each game while playing the same defense, they can turn things around in a hurry with six games left.
10) Marist (5-19, 3-9 MAAC) – 73-67 L vs. Canisius (2/2); 98-64 L vs. Iona (2/4)
The Red Foxes put a scare into Canisius, but couldn’t close the deal down the stretch. Marist held a seven point lead with 9:26 to play, but the Golden Griffins burst out on a 22-6 run while holding the Red Foxes to just one field goal before Tobias Sjoberg put home a tip with just 24 seconds left.
Marist shot 52.9% from the floor while holding Canisius to a season-low 35.2%, but committed 24 turnovers which led to 20 Golden Griffin points. Brian Parker led the Red Foxes with 19 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
Parker again led the team with 20 points against Iona, while freshman Andrea Bernardi knocked down both of his three-point attempts en route to a career-high 10 points. The Red Foxes have been able to surprise some MAAC opponents this season, but will face a tough road to close league play. According to KenPom.com, Marist is not favored to win any of its six remaining games this season with an optimal with percentage of 38% against Saint Peter’s on Feb. 17.
11) Siena (7-18, 3-9 MAAC) – 51-47 L vs. Manhattan (2/2); 78-65 L @ Fairfield (2/5)
The Saints have been put on ice. Siena is officially playing at the slowest clip in the MAAC, and that’s an exceptionally difficult thing to do when you play in a league with Saint Peter’s.
Since the start of MAAC play, Siena is dead last in the league with an average tempo of 64.8 and an average possession length of 21.1 seconds on offense. The offense has not been effective, especially since the departure of Nico Clareth, but strong play on the defensive end combined with their sluggish pace of play has allowed the Saints to drag opposing teams into the mud.
Siena is averaging 67.4 ppg as a team this season, but just 63.5 ppg over the ten games since Clareth left the program. The Saints actually lead the MAAC in three-point defense (32.7%) and rank second inside the arc (47.0%) since the start of league play. With a young squad of players, Jimmy Patsos has tried to find the best system for his club to grow, but the Saints don’t appear to have the firepower to stun most opponents.
Vincent Simone covers the MAAC, Hofstra, and more for NYC Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.