By Nick Veronica
Antoine Mason scored 38 points to lead 11th-seeded Niagara to a 78-76 upset of 6-Marist late Thursday night in the play-in round of the MAAC Tournament.
The Purple Eagles led by as many as 24 points in the second half but had to hold on as Chavuaghn Lewis led a rally to get Marist back within two points on several occasions in the final 90 seconds. Lewis finished with 26 points and Khallid Hart had 20. Marcus Ware chipped in with 14 points for the Purps (7-25).
Niagara will face third-seeded Quinnipiac at 9 p.m. Saturday.
In other play-in round action, Saint Peter’s needed overtime to dispatch No. 10 Fairfield, 65-62. Desi Washington hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to win the game. He led the Peacocks with 14 points while Maurice Barrow came off the bench to lead Fairfield with 14 points.
Danny Stewart had 25 points and 9 rebounds to lead Rider past Monmouth, 71-60.
Here’s what the bracket looks like for Saturday’s quarterfinals (click to expand):
- Canisius meets Siena at 2:30 Saturday. Saints freshman Lavon Long: “Stop Baron, and we’re most likely going to win.”
- Billy Baron: “Canisius is home now. It’s a small school with a big heart.”
- Canisius is last in the conference in rebounding. What does that mean for the tournament?
- Looks like the Niagara women were on the wrong end of some bad officiating. The Canisius women open at 2:30 p.m. Friday against Quinnipiac.
- MAAC awards are announced Friday night. My picks:
- Player of the Year: Billy Baron, Canisius. It’s between Baron and Manhattan’s George Beamon, but Baron’s the guy.
- Rookie of the Year: Khallid Hart, Marist.
- Coach of the Year: Tom Moore, Quinnipiac.
- Sixth Player of the Year: Maurice Barrow, Marist (close between him and Siena’s Evan Hymes).
- Defensive Player of the Year: It’s a crapshoot, really. I’d guess Chris Perez is in the mix but I don’t know. Manhattan’s Rhamel Brown is third nationally in blocks so lets go with him.
I’m heading down for the tournament this weekend. Check back for live blogs and coverage of all the action here and on Twitter. Follow @nickveronica