Siena Splits Home Stand
The Siena Saints were two free throws away from a three game win streak, but settled with splitting a pair of contests at home last week against Monmouth and Niagara.
Siena looked to begin a win streak when they hosted Monmouth Monday night. The Hawks have had a down year thus far, but have really hit their stride in conference play. The Saints opened up a 20-10 lead, thanks to four early triples by Jalen Pickett. Monmouth closed the first half with a 12-0 run and took a 34-27 lead into intermission. The Hawks continued the run as they took a 41-29 lead with 17:04 left on a free throw by Ray Salnave. Siena responded and went on a 15-0 spurt of their own to earn a 44-41 advantage with 11:08 remaining. In a back-and-forth affair, Deion Hammond nailed a three to give Monmouth a 55-54 lead with 1:36 to go. Salnave connected on a pair of free throws to build a 57-54 advantage with 26.4 to play, but the Saints refused to go away. Sloan Seymour sent the game to overtime as he drilled a trey with 6.8 ticks on the clock. With Siena trailing the Hawks by one, 61-60, Evan Fisher stepped to the charity stripe with 8.5 seconds left in overtime with hopes of giving the Saints the lead. Fisher missed both free throws and Samuel Chaput put the game away with a two free throws at the other end to send Monmouth home with a 63-60 overtime win.
Hammond led the Hawks with 16 points, on 6-of-12 shooting, and three rebounds.
Kevin Degnan paced Siena with 17 points, on 5-of-7 from the field, and seven boards. Pickett stuffed the stat sheet for the Saints with 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals, and two blocks. Fisher finished with 12 points and four boards.
Siena looked to rebound from their heartbreaking loss to Monmouth when they took on the Niagara Purple Eagles on Thursday night at the Times Union Center. Niagara jumped out to an early 12-2 lead. The Saints outscored the Purple Eagles 29-12 the rest of the first half to take a 31-24 advantage into the break. Siena pulled away with a 14-2 run capped off by a jumper by Degnan to take a 55-35 lead with 7:06 remaining in the game. The Saints hung on to earn a 66-57 victory.
James Towns led Niagara with 21 points, on 8-of-13 from the floor, and four rebounds.
Pickett paced the Saints with 17 points, on 5-of-11 shooting, four boards, on seven assists. Fisher added 13 points, on 6-of-12 from the field, six rebounds, and three assists. Kadeem Smithen provided a spark off the bench for Siena as he tallied 13 points on 5-of-9 from the floor.
With the win, the Saints improved to 7-11 overall and 2-3 in the MAAC.
Player of the Week: Kadeem Smithen
Although Pickett and Fisher continue to be leaders for Siena on the court, this week’s player of the week for the Saints was Kadeem Smithen. The senior guard had yet to break out this year, but he came off the bench against Niagara and was just what the doctor ordered for first-year coach Jamion Christian. Smithen has always been a solid defender, but rarely gets it going offensively. Siena could use Smithen as a viable option off the bench as MAAC play continues.
Up Next: Fairfield and Manhattan
The Saints will travel to Bridgeport, Connecticut to take on the Fairfield Stags on Thursday night. Tip-off is set for 7pm. Fairfield is 5-14 on the season, 2-5 in conference, and are coming off a 73-68 loss to Canisius on Saturday. The Stags are led by Landon Taliaferro who is averaging 12.5 points per game. Last year, Fairfield swept the season series from Siena.
The Saints will return home on Saturday night when they square off against the Manhattan Jaspers. Tip-off is set for 7pm. Manhattan is 4-14 overall, 2-4 in the MAAC, and are coming off a 60-47 loss to Rider on Saturday. The Jaspers host Marist on Monday night before they travel to Albany to battle with Siena. Manhattan is led by Pauly Paulicap who is averaging 8.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest. Last season, the Jaspers swept the season series from the Saints.