The Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference announced Tuesday the Siena College men’s and the Rider University women’s basketball teams are its 2019-20 champions.
The MAAC tournaments at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City were suspended and then canceled March 12 due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
MAAC by-laws state that in the event that title games cannot be completed, the highest remaining seeds will be named champions and NCAA Tournament automatic qualifiers.
Siena (20-10, 15-5 MAAC) and Rider (26-5, 18-2 MAAC) were the top seeds heading into Atlantic City. The NCAA tournaments, however, also have been canceled.
“The Siena and Rider basketball programs both exhibited outstanding seasons this year,” MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor said in a statement.
“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t let these teams try to finish what they set out for at the (MAAC Tournament) … but the accomplishments that both programs achieved during the regular season should not be dismissed.”
Rider clinched a share of the regular-season title, the Broncs’ first, with Marist.
Rider coach Lynn Milligan was named the MAAC Coach of the Year. All 11 head coaches in the league voted. Rider, Monmouth and St. Peter’s are the New Jersey universities in the conference.
Broncs senior Stella Johnson finished the regular season as the D-I scoring champion, having averaged 24.4 points per game. The Denville, Morris County, resident and Morris Catholic graduate scored 37 in Rider’s lone tournament game, a 79-74 quarterfinal win over Niagara, before the cancellation.
Rider’s Amari Johnson was named MAAC Defensive Player of the Year. The senior led the conference with 8.4 defensive rebounds per game and ranked second with 10.8 total rebounds per game.
On the men’s side, Siena’s Carmen Maciariello guided the program to its eighth MAAC regular-season title in his first season on the job. The conference title was the Saints’ eighth, second most in the MAAC behind Iona (12).
Sophomore standout Jalen Pickett was named the Player of the Year. Pickett averaged 15.3 points, a league-leading 6.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds.
Pickett and Manny Camper were named All-MAAC first-team selections, while team captain Elijah Burns was named to the second team.