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Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko ( or email

Saturday, March 9, 2013

MAAC Tournament Quarterfinals

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Joe Mihalich sat down at his postgame press conference and quoted Hall of Fame coach John Chaney.

"As John Chaney would say, 'you win one, you buy one,'" said Mihalich after his top-seeded Niagara squad survived a tough challenge from ninth-seeded Siena Saturday afternoon. "You live to play another day. The difference between 1 and 8 in this league is so marginal. I don't think it was our best game, but we made plays to win."

Antoine Mason scored 21 points, Juan'ya Green added 15, including a back-breaking 3-pointer with 2:07 left and the Purple Eagles were good enough to reach the semifinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament with a 74-62 victory.

"We won," said a relived Mason. "That's a good start. We have to be sharper tomorrow."

Niagara (19-12) opened the second half with a 10-0 run to take an 11-point advantage, and although the Saints (8-24) got as close as two with 11:30 left, the Purple Eagles never surrendered the lead.

Siena tied a program record with its 24th loss. The Saints have endured a miserable year — this is just the third time in they have had a 20-loss season— but were looking to salvage something with a strong showing in Springfield.

They beat Marist in the 8/9 play-in game Friday night and were close with the top seed down the stretch.

"We got it close," said senior O.D. Anosike, who finished a fantastic career with a 13-point, 10-rebound effort. "We just weren't able to seal the deal."

Anosike, who will get a chance to play pro ball somewhere, praised his time at Siena.

"If I had to do it again, I wouldn't change a thing," he said. "I came in here an 18-year-old kid and I'm leaving a 22-year-old man. I think my best basketball is still in front of him."

Siena had 20 turnovers that led to 32 Niagara points.

"It's what we try to do," Mihalich said, pointing out he's not a KenPom guy because of all the numbers but his assistants understand it. "They say what we do well is not turn it over and get them to turn it over."

Turnovers have been an issue all year for the Saints, who averaged 15.3 per game and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of -4.3.

"You can't turn the ball over against a team like Niagara," said under-fire coach Mitch Buonaguro.

Evan Hymes and Rob Poole had 14 points each to pace Siena.

 T.J. Cline chipped in nine points and four rebounds off the bench for Niagara, prompting Mihalich to call him the "real Rookie of the Year."

The Purple Eagles could be without starting guard Tahjere McCall, who left the game with a left leg injury early in the first half.

"It doesn't look good that he's on crutches," Mihalich said. "Fingers crossed. If anybody can do it, he will. It doesn't look good."

At least Niagara is fighting another day.

"I think the charm of our is that we know we can lose," Mihalich said. "We respect the heck out of whoever we're playing against."

Iona 89, Canisius 85

MoMo Jones scored 33 points, 21 in the second half as the fourth-seeded Gaels (18-13) held off a late charge by the fifth-seeded Golden Griffins (18-13).

Jones, who went to bed Friday night with a fever, didn't let it affect him. He drove in for a difficult layup to put Iona up 80-77 after Chris Manhertz had scored to draw Canisius within one.

After the Griffs came up empty on their next trip, David Laury scored with 59 seconds remaining, giving the Gaels enough breathing room to book a place in the semis.

Sean Armand added 24 points for Iona, while Taaj Ridley finished with 13 and Laury 10.

Billy Baron paced Canisius with 24 points and Harold Washington added 17.


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