BUFFALO, N.Y. — All eyes will be on the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on Sunday.
Sunday afternoon kicks off with a pair of 4-1 teams squaring off, as the Rider Broncs take on the Iona Gaels in a match-up of two teams tied atop the conference standings. The team that wins will have a leg up on the other, and it could go a long way in determining the eventual regular season champion.
Then, in Buffalo, the Canisius Golden Griffins welcome the Monmouth Hawks to town in another intriguing match-up. Canisius is the third team sitting at 4-1 in MAAC play, while the Hawks find themselves in unfamiliar territory this season after a strong previous two seasons.
Canisius will look to keep pace with both Iona and Rider atop the conference standings, as a win would keep them in a two-way tie for top spot. Monmouth will be looking to get back on the right track, so you can bet that they’ll throw everything they have at the Golden Griffins on their home floor.
Here’s what you need to know in advance of the Hawks and Golden Griffins squaring off on Sunday afternoon.
Last Time Out
On Friday night against the Niagara Purple Eagles, Monmouth had their backs against the wall as the second half wound down. With 2:45 to play, the Hawks found themselves down 11 points. However, they fought back and made the Purple Eagles sweat to the final buzzer. In the end, the Hawks’ comeback efforts fell short, and Niagara held on for the 78-77 victory.
Guard Louie Pillari led all Monmouth scorers with 19 points off the bench in the loss. Forward Diago Quinn recorded 10 points and 14 rebounds for the double-double, all while playing just 19 minutes due to foul troubles. Zac Tillman added 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
The loss was the third in the last four games for the Hawks, and seventh in their last nine outings.
Back home inside the Koessler Athletic Center on Friday, the Golden Griffins were looking to bounce back from their first MAAC loss in their previous outing. A strong shooting night from Canisius (52% FG) propelled the Golden Griffins to the 70-58 win over the visiting Saint Peter’s Peacocks.
Freshman guard Takal Molson posted 23 points for his second straight 20+ point performance. He was 4-of-6 from three point range on the night, with all four makes coming in the first half. Jermaine Crumpton added 14 points of his own, while Canadian forward Selvedin Planincic chipped in with 11 points and five rebounds.
Canisius moved to 6-1 on their home floor this season with the win. In 2016-17, they won a total of seven games at home, which they can match on Sunday.
During the 2016-17 season, the Hawks and Golden Griffins met on a pair of occasions. Monmouth picked up a season sweep over Canisius, but both rosters looked drastically different. Thanks in large part to 22 points and 10 rebounds from Chris Brady up front, Monmouth picked up a 76-72 win on January 16th, 2017.
Brady finished the day going 11-of-12 from the floor. Star guard Justin Robinson recorded 21 points and eight assists to lead the Hawks to the road win. Austin Tilghman came off the bench to record 11 points, on 3-of-5 shooting.
For the Golden Griffins, forward Phil Valenti posted a double-double of his own, going for 14 points and 12 rebounds in the loss. Keifer Douse added 16 points, while Kassius Robertson went for 13 points and six rebounds.
Fast forward to 2017-18, and Douse, Valenti, and Robertson are all no longer with Canisius. Brady and Robinson are no longer with the Hawks, which means there will be new stars leading the way on Sunday afternoon.
Players to Watch
Monmouth – Micah Seaborn
If he is in the lineup on Sunday, the play of guard Micah Seaborn will be key for the Monmouth Hawks on the road. He missed the Hawks’ game on January 5th against the Manhattan Jaspers, and played less than a minute in their last outing against Niagara, recording just a single rebound. In 12 games this season, the native of Fort Worth, TX is averaging a career-best 14.4 points per game, while also recording 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Seaborn is shooting 47.0% from the field, and 45.6% from three point range, both of which are also career-high marks. He has shot 50% or better from beyond the arc in seven games this season, while recording double figures in nine contests. It’s clear to see the impact that Seaborn has on the offense for the Hawks, and if he’s in the lineup come Sunday afternoon, they could very well come away with the win.
Canisius – Makal Tolson
Guard Makal Tolson may be a freshman, but he’s playing like anything but a first-year player for the Canisius Golden Griffins. The 6’5” guard from Buffalo is third on the team in scoring, averaging 12.3 points to go along with 4.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He is one of three players to average double-digit points per game this season for the Golden Griffins, and is another piece of a young, talented core that head coach Reggie Witherspoon and his staff can build around. Coming into Sunday’s tilt with the Hawks, Molson has three 20+ point games in his last four outings, giving him four such performances for the year. Against the Rider Broncs on December 29th, Molson recorded his first-career double-double, going for 18 points and 10 rebounds in the 77-76 win for the Golden Griffins. He will look to continue his strong play on Sunday against Monmouth.
Leading up to the season, I said that the Golden Griffins would have the best back court in the MAAC in the next two seasons. While that still could very well be true, they are ahead of expectations, and the guards have Canisius in a three-way atop the MAAC standings coming into Sunday.
After two strong seasons, the Hawks find them in unfamiliar territory. They sit at 5-11 overall, and just 1-3 in conference play. A win over the Golden Griffins on Sunday would do wonders for their confidence, and hopefully get them back on the right track.
Canisius has been playing some strong basketball of late, having won six of their last seven contests overall. When you add in their 6-1 record at home, and all signs point to another win for the Golden Griffins. Monmouth will make things close, much like they did against Niagara, but they will come out on the wrong end of the decision once more.
Canisius – 74
Monmouth – 66
– T. Bennett