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Date Posted: 16:54:40 02/08/08 Fri
Author: Eagle
Subject: Niagara v Rider

More than you need to know....

Men's Basketball Looks to Slow Broncs Once Again
2/8/2008

Purple Eagles Try to Stop MAACís Hottest Team

Niagara looks to continue its winning ways away from the Gallagher Center when it faces Rider, the hottest team in the MAAC, on Friday. The Purple Eagles have won seven of their last nine games away from home.

Rider has won nine-straight games overall, and owns a 12-2 mark since the Broncs last faced Niagara on Dec. 6, inside the Gallagher Center. In a matchup of the leagueís two premier players, Charron Fisher outdueled Jason Thompson by scoring a career-high 36 points with a career-best eight three-pointers in an 89-77 Niagara victory.

How To Tune In
This season marks the first time that all menís basketball games can be heard live on FM Radio, as 105.1 ĎThe Riverí will carry Purple Eagle basketball for the 2007-08 season. Todd Callen will have the play-by-play live from Alumni Gym.

Fans can also follow the game on their computers. Yahoo! Sports will carry the live audio broadcast.

Three Purps Return Home
A trio of Purple Eagle starters will play in front of their home-town crowds when Niagara takes to court in Lawrenceville, N.J. Senior Charron Fisher (Pennsauken, N.J.), sophomore Tyrone Lewis (Levittown, Pa.) and freshman Anthony Nelson (Plainfield, N.J.) will feel at home inside Riderís Alumni Hall.

Fisher and Lewis have enjoyed success on their hardwood, as the duo combine to score 55 points last year at Alumni Hall. Fisher averages 22.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in two games at Rider.

Daunting Task
Niagaraís next two games will be against the two hottest teams in the MAAC, as NU faces Rider, winners of nine straight, before Loyola, who had won six consecutive games before Tuesdayís loss at NU. Rider, at 10-2, sits atop the MAAC standings.

National Ranking
This season, the Purple Eagles are displaying one of the most prolific scorers in the nation as Charron Fisher ranks second in the NCAA with 26.7 ppg. The senior forward had been ranked in the top spot during six of the past nine weeks of play.

Only once has a Purple Eagle finished the season with the scoring crown, and that was in 1999, when Alvin Young ranked first in the nation with 25.1 ppg.

Fishing for Points from the Line
Purple Eagle fans know that Charron Fisher can score from anywhere on the floor, but the swingman has been routinely getting to the free throw line this season. Fisher leads the nation in free throw attempts (10.2) while tying for first in free throws made (8.2) per game. North Carolinaís Tyler Hansbrough averages 10.1 attempts while ranking first in makes (8.2).

Overall, No. 24 has toed the charity stripe 10 or more times in a game on 12 different occasions. Seven separate times No. 24 has made double-digit free throws this season, including a perfect 14-for-14 performance at Saint Peterís, Jan. 25.

Tyrone Tickles the Twine
Sophomore Tyrone Lewis has been knocking down three-pointers at an alarming rate in recent games for Niagara. The speedy guard connected on six long-range jumpers in two road games last week, tying a career high on both occasions.

Lewis has registered over 20 points seven times this season, including over 25 in three of his last five games. Last week alone, No. 2 netted 26 points in a loss at Marist, 25 in a victory at Saint Peterís and tied his career high with 27 markers in a win at Fairfield.

Eagleís Eye On Niagara
* The Purple Eagles hit the road again, this weekend, taking on the top team in the conference, the Rider Broncs.

* Fridayís contest pits the top two scoring and rebounding teams in the league against each other. Rider leads the way with 77.9 ppg, while the Purple Eagles are the top rebounders with 38.5 rpg.

* Charron Fisher ranks second in the nation in scoring with a 26.7 ppg average. On Dec. 6, he set new career highs with 36 points and eight three-point baskets when he took on Rider, and he has led the team in scoring in 17 of 21 contests. Fisher averages 22.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg at Rider in his career.

* Tyrone Lewis ranks second on the squad and fourth in the MAAC with a 16.3 per game average. No. 2 scored a career-high 27 points in his last road contest, knocking down six three-pointers for the second-straight came. The sophomore guard has stepped up his performance lately, averaging 20.7 ppg in his last six contests.

* Stanley Hodge is used to filling the stat sheet for head coach Joe Mihalich, but this season, he is doing it in the scoring column as well, as the senior ranks third on the team with 12.2 ppg. The senior guard also ranks second on the team in assists (68) and field goal percentage (.423). He led NU in scoring with a career-high 21 points against Fairfield.

* Anthony Nelson has been a steady force at the point for Niagara this season, and heís only a freshman. Nelson, who has started every game for the Purple Eagles, ranks second on the team and third in the MAAC with 36.0 minutes per game. In his last game, Nelson handed out nine assists without a turnover. He dished out a career-high 12 assists in the win over SBU and picked up 10 assists on Dec. 6. No. 31 was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor in his Purple Eagle debut, scoring 13 points. He recorded a career-high 10 rebounds in his last road game.

* Benson Egemonye has shot 69.6 percent from the floor since MAAC play resumed on Jan. 3. The 6-foot-10 center shot 13-of-15 from the floor in his last three games, while his 7.0 rebounds per game average ranks seventh in the conference.

* Demetrius Williamson has been a versatile option off the bench for head coach Joe Mihalich this season. The sophomore connected on five three pointers at Liberty in December while scoring a career-high 19 points.

* Andrew Patterson adds 1.5 ppg off the bench, as nine of his 11 buckets are 3ís, while Kamau Gordon chips in with 14 points and 24 rebounds this season.

* David Cirincione and Chris Armstrong have played in two games this year.

Eagleís Eye On Rider
* The hottest teams in the MAAC welcomes NU to Alumni Gym looking to extend its season-high win streak to 10 games for the first time since the 1983-84 season. The nine-game streak is the fourth-longest active streak in the nation.

* The Broncs shoot 49.1 percent from the field, which leads the MAAC ranks 13th in the nation.

* Jason Thompson ranks third in the nation with 11.5 rebounds per game after pulling in a school record 21 rebounds in 14-point win over Siena. The preseason MAAC Player of the Year adds 20.0 ppg, which ranks second in the MAAC behind Fisher.

* Ryan Thompson, Jasonís younger brother, ranks second on the team and sixth in the MAAC with 15.1 ppg. He also ranks in the top 10 in the MAAC in rebounding (9th), field goal percentage (5th), assists (7th) and steals (7th).

* Harris Mansellís 13.3 ppg rank 10th in the MAAC and third on the team.

* Mike Ringgold plays in the paint for the Broncs, shooting 61.6 percent from the floor while averaging 7.0 ppg. Justin Robinson, a freshman, averages 6.5 ppg and 2.7 assists per game for third-year head coach Tommy Dempsey.

All-Time Series

Niagara leads 17-8

Last Meeting - Niagara 89, Rider 77 - Dec. 6, 2007

In a matchup featuring the top two players in the MAAC, Niagara senior Charron Fisher rose to the top. The forward connected on eight three-point baskets, scoring a career-high 36 points, to help the Purple Eagles outduel Jason Thompson and Rider, 89-77, inside the 'Taps' Gallagher Center.

As a team, Niagara hit 15 long-range jumpers, the second-most in school history. Fisher's eight treys also tied for the second-most by an individual, and is the most since Alvin Young (1997-99) buried eight against cross-town rival Canisius in 1999.

The Purple Eagles went on a 14-0 run late in the first, and expanded their lead to 45-33 with 55 seconds left in the half. They headed to the locker room up 50-34. Preseason MAAC Player of the Year Jason Thompson picked up his second and third fouls during that 14-0 run. The big man was whistled for an offensive foul and a technical foul with 2:48 remaining in the opening stanza. Thompson finished the game with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Tyrone Lewis scored 14 points, while Stanley Hodge added 12. Freshman point guard Anthony Nelson dished out 10 assists in the win.

Toeing the Line
Head coaches routinely preach the importance of free throws, and Joe Mihalich is no different. This yearís Purple Eagle club has made it a point to get points from the foul line.

Niagara has made 443 free throws this season, which is the most in the MAAC and tied for fourth in the nation. The Purple Eagles have attempted 599 free throws through 21 contests this season, the most in the MAAC, and 108 more than its opponents.

The numbers really jump out in NUís victories over St. Johnís and Marist, as the Purple Eagles attempted 83 freebies, including a whopping 46 at St. Johnís. Niagaraís opponents combined for 35 free throw attempts in those two contests, less than the 37 chances that Mihalichís men took in their win over Marist.

Road Warrior
In his last eight road contests, Tyrone Lewisí performance has shown why he was selected on the preseason All-MAAC First Team.

No. 2 scored in double figures in all eight games, including a career-high 27-point outing in his last road contest. In his most recent road trip, Lewis connected on 12 three-pointers, six in each game.

Lewis averaged 22.3 ppg over the eight-game run, while averaging 38.1 minutes per game. The sophomore has been staying out of foul trouble and being aggressive on the offensive end, taking the ball to the tin more often.

The results have shown, as Lewis has gotten to the free throw line 65 times in the eight games. In Lewisí other 11 contests, he has gotten to the line only 41 times.

Lewis has taken advantage from the line, making 78.5 percent of the freebies during his road trip success.

His defense has also stepped up, as he leads the team with 20 steals during that run, while ranking second with seven blocked shots.

Mr. Big Shot
In a matchup of the top two players in the MAAC Charron Fisher rose to the top. The forward connected on eight three-point baskets, scoring a career-high 36 points, to help the Purple Eagles outduel Jason Thompson and Rider, 89-77, on Dec. 6.

Fisherís eight treys tied for the second-most long-range baskets in school history. It also marked the most threes since Alvin Young buried eight in 1999. With his final three-pointer, Fisher passed Young on the all-time scoring charts. He currently ranks 10th on the list with 1,528 career points, and sits 67 points behind Al Butler (Ď61) for ninth place on the all-time scoring charts.

ĎFishíin for Double-Doubles
Niagara senior Charron Fisher is stating his case for MAAC Player of the Year with his scoring prowess on the hardwood. The forward ranks second in the nation with a 26.7 ppg average. But the 6-foot-3 swingman also ranks third in rebounding in the MAAC.

Fisherís pulling rebounds in at a career-high clip during his senior campaign. No. 24 averages 9.0 rebounds per game.

Fisherís 32-point, 12-rebound performance at Iona was his fifth double-double in a span of six games. He has two career double-doubles against Rider, including his first trip to Alumni Gym.

Big Ben-son
Junior Benson Egemonye leads the MAAC in field-goal percentage with .629. He is shooting 13-of-15 from the floor in his last three games. He has been playing his best basketball as of late, as the 6-foot-10 center averaged 19.0 points and 10.7 rebounds from Jan. 5-Jan. 11.

Egemonye added a double-double in two of those three contests, including a 22-point, 11-rebound effort at Manhattan, Jan. 5, as the 22 points marked a career high. He followed that performance up with a 17-point, 13-rebound performance against Siena, as his board total marked another career best.

Agent 0
Stanley Hodge is making the most of his senior season on Monteagle Ridge. No. 0 continues the MAAC stretch averaging 12.2 ppg, more than nine points more than last seasonís total. He is coming off a career game with 21 points on Sunday, a career-high total.

With most defenses keying in on Niagaraís pair of preseason All-MAAC selections, senior Charron Fisher and sophomore Tyrone Lewis, the senior guard could find more and more open looks throughout the season. Hodge torched the nets for a then-career-high 20 points in the Purple Eaglesí 80-63 victory over Buffalo, Nov. 20, and tied that total with steady shooting (6-of-10) in a win over Marist, Dec. 22.

The senior leader also is chipping in to help contribute in other categories. Hodge currently ranks third on the team and 11th in the MAAC with 5.6 rpg. His 68 assists rank second on the team and ninth in the conference, while his 1.6 assist-to-turnover ration ranks sixth in the MAAC.

Freshman Point Guard: A Dime A Dozen
Along with Fisherís national ranking, another Purple Eagle ranks among the nationís elite. Freshman Anthony Nelson is averaging 5.6 assists per game through the first 20 contests, the most by any freshman in the nation.

In one of his best game as a Purple Eagle, Nelson netted 12 points and four assists while committing zero turnovers in Niagaraís win over St. Johnís on Dec. 15.

In the MAAC opener on Dec. 6, Nelson dropped 10 dimes in the 12-point win over Rider. The point guard recorded a career-high 12 assists in NUís 80-75 win over St. Bonaventure, Nov. 28, and picked up six steals at Iona, a career high.

In his last road contest, Nelson pulled down a career-best 10 rebounds while handing out eight assists at Fairfield. In the Siena game, Nelson scored a career-high 14 points while pulling down seven rebounds and handing out four assists.

He dished out nine assists without a turnover in his last contest.

Big Time Performances
Sophomore Tyrone Lewis had a huge hand in the season-opening victory against Central Michigan on Nov. 16. The 5-foot-11 guard scored a then career-high 26 points while grabbing a team-best seven rebounds.

When Niagaraís lead shrunk to just two points, Lewis responded with an 11-0 run. The preseason All-MAAC pick nailed a pair of three-pointers, sank a fast-break lay-up and added another long-range shot in a 1:33 span to kick the lead back to 13 and secure the victory.

No. 2 scored 14 points in the 77-73 victory over St. Johnís, including an off-balance, shot-clock beating jumper to extend NUís lead to three with under two minutes to play.

Fresh Debut for Freshman
The Purple Eagles handed the point guard duties over to a freshman in the season opener and the rookie responded with an amazing performance. Anthony Nelson scored 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the floor. The 6-foot-1 guard filled the stat sheet with five rebounds, four assists and game-high three steals. Nelson nailed a three-pointer with 3:20 remaining to stretch the Niagara lead to nine points and put the game out of reach.

Big Time Milestone
Senior Charron Fisher needed just one point in the season opener to become the 39th member of Niagaraís 1,000-point club, but in true Fisher fashion, the 6-foot-3 swingman buried a three-pointer in the first 40 seconds of the game for the milestone.

Fisher became the 10th player under head coach Joe Mihalich to reach the 1,000 point plateau. He finished the game with 22 points and six rebounds.

1,000-Point Performers Under Mihalich
When Charron Fisher nailed an open three to begin the 2007-08 season, he became the 10th player under head coach Joe Mihalich to reach the milestone. Juan Mendez (2,210) and Tremmell Darden (1,729), who played for NU from 2000-2005 rank second and third on the all-time chart.

Daryl Greene (1998-02), David Brooks (2001-05) and Lorenzo Miles (2003-07) also rank in the top 20, while James Reaves (2000-2004) is tied at 21st with 1,274 points and Alvin Cruz (2001-05) is 26th with 1,207. Desmond Stewart (27th) and J.R. Duffey (37th) also appear on the 1,000-point chart.

The Good Guys Score First
Niagara has scored first in all but three contest so far this season and they have done so in rapid fashion. Nine times the Purple Eagles have gotten on the board before 20 seconds have ticked off the clock.

The pair of seniors have been mostly responsible for the quick start, as Stanley Hodge and Charron Fisher have each scored first seven times. Hodge has been the quickest fast starter, nailing a three-pointer 14 seconds into the game on two separate occasions, and a jumper 13 seconds into the Canisius contest. Freshman Anthony Nelson joined the party by hitting a trifecta 14 seconds into the first Marist game, and junior Benson Egemonye added a lay-up against Siena and Fairfield to start the scoring.

Magical MAAC Run
The Purple Eagles have been dominant against MAAC opponents, dating back to last seasonís magical season. Niagara had won 14-straight games against teams from the MAAC, including the 2007 MAAC Championships, before a loss to Siena, Jan. 11.

Niagara defeated Manhattan 81-70 on Feb. 2, 2007 to start the stretch, and Jan. 5ís win over the Jaspers extended the run to 14 games. Eight teams had tasted defeat at the claws of the Purple Eagles during that streak, including four teams multiple times.

Niagara now has won 18 of its last 22 conference games after a win over Loyola on Tuesday.

Classic West Coast Trip
Niagara had not played on the west coast in over 10 years, and the Purple Eagles made the most of their first trip back by winning the 41st Cable Car Classic. The in-season tournament title was the first since 1973, when the Frank Layden-led Purple Eagles claimed the Rochester Kodak Classic. The legendary coach was on hand to provide historic insight to the young club and enjoy the victory first-hand.

Charron Fisher earned MVP honors for his performance, while Tyrone Lewis returned to true form by landing on the All-Tournament team. Fisher scored 51 points and pulled down 19 rebounds to also claim MAAC Player of the Week. Lewis totaled 41 points while shooting 12-of-12 from the line.

A Tale of Two Games
In Niagaraís two contests against Marist this year, the Purple Eagle defense was the key. In the first contest, a nine-point Niagara win in December, The gritty Purple Eagle defense held Marist to 38.1 percent shooting from the floor, well below the Red Foxes average. NU also held two of the Red Foxesí top scorers off the board in the opening game, as Jay Gavin and Spongy Benjamin combined for 0-for-9 shooting.

On Monday, in a 19-point loss at Marist, the Red Foxes rebounded to shoot 50.0 percent from the floor (28-of-56). This time, Gavin and Benjamin combined for 26 points on 11-of-22 shooting.

Marist shot 17-of-28 in the second half, as five different players totaled double-digit scoring totals en route to the victory.

Big Time Big East Win
Dec. 15ís victory over St. Johnís was historic in many aspects for the Purple Eagles. It marked the first time in 44 years that Niagara was victorious inside Carnesecca Arena (formerly Alumni Hall). The 98th meeting between the pair of Vincentian schools was the 10 year anniversary of NUís upset over the Red Storm inside Madison Square Garden. Jack Armstrong, the coach of the 1997 squad, was on hand as the color commentator for the television broadcast, while two players of that team, assistants Akbar Waheed and Luke Dobrich, helped orchestrate the upset.

While senior Charron Fisher led the way with 30 points and 14 rebounds, it was a complete team effort in Queens, N.Y. The Purple Eagles kept their composure and committed just seven turnovers in the win. Freshman point guard Anthony Nelson chipped in with 12 points, four assists and a career-high five steals. The first-year floor general went up against a fifth-year point guard and did not commit a turnover.

St. Johnís Game Plan
The Niagara coaching staff implemented a detailed game plan for the St. Johnís contest, and the Purple Eagles executed it perfectly in the 77-73 upset road win.

Head coach Joe Mihalich stressed the importance of an aggressive offense that takes care of the ball. The Purple Eagles had their lowest turnover total of the season (7) as freshman point guard Anthony Nelson committed zero turnovers.

The final plan for a Purple Eagle upset was the revolving defenses. Mihalich continuously switched defensive looks, from man-to-man, to zone, to numerous different pressure looks, in an effort to confuse the Johnnies. St. Johnís was forced to settle for outside jumpers instead of easy lay-ins down the stretch.

Non-MAAC Prepared For MAAC
Head coach Joe Mihalich has routinely stated that this seasonís non-conference schedule has been geared towards improving the young Purple Eagles for MAAC play. Seeing tough non-MAAC teams, such as Duquesne, Morgan State, Santa Clara, St. Johnís and Towson, prepares the team for the lengthy conference schedule. NUís biggest non-conference win of the year came at the hands of the BIG EASTís Red Storm on Dec. 15 at Carnesecca Arena, while the Cable Car Classic title was the first in-season tournament win since 1973.

Defense! Defense!
While the Purple Eagles are well-known for their fast and powerful offensive attack, it was their defensive pressure that was key to the 80-63 victory over rival Buffalo on Tuesday. Niagara forced 26 turnovers in the win, the most since forcing 23 against UB last season. The Purple Eagles forced 20 turnovers twice last year, and 19 in the 78-74 win over Duquesne last December.

The trio of Niagara guards, senior Stanley Hodge, sophomore Tyrone Lewis and freshman Anthony Nelson, was a huge factor in the season-high 15 steals in the UB contest. Niagaraís defense also turned away seven shots in the win.

53 Defense
While the old mindset that you have to outscore the other team to win is true, so to is the philosophy that defense wins championships. The Purple Eagles made the latter statement true while capturing the 41st Cable Car Classic title. Niagara held both of their opponents to 53 points.

The defense held Morgan State to just 22 points in the first half of the 20-point win, and forced Santa Clara into 14 turnovers while holding them to 36 percent shooting from the floor, including 1-of-11 from behind the arc in the second half.

Conference Comeback
Despite not playing its best basketball in the first half of the Dec. 22 win over Marist, the Purple Eagle clung to a 29-20 lead with 4:15 remaining. That lead evaporated as quick as a Red Fox, as Marist ended the half on a 15-0 run.

The second half, however, was a different story. Charron Fisher scored 11 points in a pivotal 15-2 run that gave Niagara the lead for good in come-from-behind fashion. NU turned up the defensive pressure and held the Red Foxes to 1-of-7 shooting during that run, forcing four turnovers and blocking three shots en route to the 76-67 victory.

Electric Atmosphere
The Purple Eagles rode the momentum of a loud, proud sellout crowd to a 79-73 victory over Central Michigan on Nov. 16. The University of Daytonís Pep Band returned to the side of head coach Joe Mihalichís bunch, performing prior to the game and at halftime. Niagara President Fr. Joseph Levesque unveiled last seasonís MAAC Championship banner just before tip-off, filling the gym with an electric feeling. The Purple Eagles took that atmosphere and ran with it, all the way to a 20-4 lead in the first six minutes of the game. When the Chippewas chipped away at the early lead, the crowd got behind its team and helped propel an 11-0 run that sealed the win.

A Decade of Excellence
Head coach Joe Mihalich is in his 10th season on the bench inside the Gallagher Center. Mihalich, the longest-tenured head coach in the MAAC, has earned a 174-120 (.592) career record while on Monteagle Ridge.

The head coach has led Niagara to three MAAC regular-season titles, a pair of MAAC Championships, two NCAA Tournament appearances and one NCAA win. Mihalich has been honored as the MAAC Coach of the year twice, while picking up the 2006-07 New York State Coach of the Year award.

Number Shuffle
Not only will Purple Eagle fans have to adjust to numerous new faces on the court, but four familiar faces will don new numbers this season. When senior Stanley Hodge decided to switch his jersey to No. 0, his old No. 2 was free for the pickiní. Sophomore guard Tyrone Lewis made the switch to No. 2 after wearing No. 20 in his freshman season. David Cirincione grabbed Lewisí old number after wearing No. 40 in his first season as a walk-on. Benson Egemonye was not left out of the shuffle, as the 6-foot-10 center will wear the big purple No. 25 this season, after wearing No. 15 last year.

Intense Practices
Basketball has stepped up a few notches inside the Gallagher Center with the addition of two BIG EAST transfers to the roster. Since NCAA rules prohibit the duo to play in any games until the 2008-09 season, the two are limited to practices.

Niagara Falls native Rob Garrison returns home after spending the last two seasons at UConn. Bilal Benn will be eligible next season, coming from Villanova. With Garrisonís leadership ability at the point and Bennís sharp-shooting tendencies, practice time in the ĎTapsí has become as good as game-time scenarios.

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