Siena Secures First Round Bye
Siena traveled to Western New York this weekend to finish out their regular season slate with games at Canisius and Niagara.
The Saints looked to split the season series in a pivotal MAAC matchup with Canisius Friday night. The Golden Griffins defeated Siena, 70-66, in Albany on January 5th. Following a hotly contested first half, the Saints took a 32-28 lead into the break. Siena took a 48-38 advantage on a layup by Manny Camper with 11:11 left. After that point, Canisius took control and outscored Siena 30-14 to pull away for a 68-62 win.
The Golden Griffins shot 46.6-percent from the field and only turned the ball over three times. Siena shot at a 40.6-percent clip and turned it over eight times.
Takal Molson led Canisius with 16 points, on 7-of-19 shooting, nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Evan Fisher paced the Saints with 17 points, on 8-of-16 from the field, seven rebounds, two assists, and a steal in the losing effort. Kevin Degnan and Sloan Seymour tallied 12 points apiece. Degnan also grabbed seven rebounds. Jalen Pickett stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, a block, and a steal.
Siena needed a win over Niagara in their final regular season contest to clinch a first round bye in next weekend’s MAAC Tournament. With the game tied at 14, the Purple Eagles used an 8-0 run, capped off by a jumper by Marvin Prochet, to open up a 22-14 lead with 5:27 remaining in the first stanza. The Saints pulled to within three, 27-24, at intermission. Niagara built an eight point advantage in the second half, when Chris Barton converted a free throw with 12:58 to go. Siena would not go away easily. Kadeem Smithen converted an old-fashioned three-point play to give the Saints a five point lead, 52-47, with 3:21 to play. Pickett converted two free throws, to give Siena a 56-53 advantage with 32 ticks on the clock. Prochet nailed a triple with 16 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 56. Pickett’s step-back jumped at the buzzer fell off the rim and the long-time MAAC foes were headed to overtime.
The Saints controlled the opening tip of the overtime period and Fisher converted a layup just 24 seconds in to give Siena a lead that they would not relinquish. The Saints converted their free throws down the stretch and emerged with a 72-65 victory.
Siena came away victorious despite shooting just 36.1-percent from the field. The Purple Eagles shot at a 41.4-percent clip, but the Saints’ defense forced Niagara into 14 turnovers.
Prochet poured in 21 points, on 8-of-19 from the floor, and added six rebounds, eight assists, two blocks, and three steals to lead the Purple Eagles.
Pickett led the Saints with 27 points, six rebounds, eight assists, two blocks, and three steals. Fisher posted a double-double with 15 points, on 6-of-13 shooting, and 10 rebounds. Degnan finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
With the win, Siena finished the regular season with an overall record of 16-15, 11-7 in the MAAC, and part of a four-way tie for second in the league with Canisius, Quinnipiac, and Rider. The Saints will have the fifth seed in next weekend’s MAAC Tournament and will take on the fourth seeded Rider Broncs.
Player of the Week: Jalen Pickett
This week’s player of the week for Siena was Jalen Pickett. Siena’s resurgence under first-year head coach Jamion Christian was largely due to the play of freshman stud Jalen Pickett. This past week, Pickett averaged 19 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists per game. The Rochester, New York native will likely win his MAAC-record 11th Rookie of the Week Honor this week and will probably be named the conference’s Rookie of the Year later this week as well. Pickett will need to be sharp if the Saints hope to cut down the nets a week from Monday and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.
Up Next: The MAAC Tournament vs. #4 Rider
Fifth-seeded Siena will square off against the fourth-seeded Rider Broncs in the quarterfinals of the MAAC Tournament on Saturday night at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York. Tip-off is set for 9:30pm. The Saints defeated Rider, 59-57, on February 10th in the lone meeting between the two teams in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. The Broncs are 16-14 overall, 11-7 in the MAAC, and are coming off a 75-64 win over Marist. Rider is led by Stevie Jordan who is averaging 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per contest.