Siena Surging Toward the Top of the MAAC
After dropping consecutive home games against Iona and Quinnipiac, Siena took care of business by defeating St. Peter’s and Marist at the Times Union Center this week.
The Saints used a 19-4 run, capped off by a triple by Sloan Seymour with 2:37 remaining in the opening stanza, to build a 28-13 lead. Siena entered halftime with a 33-21 advantage. St. Peter’s responded after the break and trimmed the Saints’ lead to seven, 55-48, with 7:18 left. The Peacocks wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the way and Siena claimed a 72-62 victory.
St. Peter’s shot 52.2-percent from the field and held the Saints to a 44.9-percent clip. The Peacocks also outrebounded Siena 31-23. However, the Saints won the game by taking care of the ball and shooting it well from beyond the arc. Siena forced St. Peter’s into 15 turnovers. The Saints only turned the ball over four times against the Peacocks. Siena connected on 10-of-22 of their attempts from distance, compared to St. Peter’s who shot just 3-of-9 from three-point land.
Davauhnte Turner led the Peacocks with 16 points on 6-of-12 from the field.
Evan Fisher paced the Saints with 21 points on 7-of-13 from the floor. Reigning National Freshman of the Week, Jalen Pickett, stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, four rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. Seymour finished with 12 points on 3-of-7 from deep.
Seymour broke Siena’s freshman record for three-pointers made in a season, breaking Scott Knapp’s previous record of 76 made threes in the 1997-98 campaign. Thus far, Seymour has connected on 80 threes this season.
The Saints looked to take down arch rival Marist in a Sunday matinee in Albany. The Red Foxes raced out to a 17-6 lead following a free throw by Brian Parker with 13:05 to play in the first half. Siena stormed back and used an 11-0 run, capped off by a three-pointer by Kevin Degnan, to tie the score at 17 with 9:49 to go before intermission. Fisher beat the buzzer for a layup and the Saints took a 31-28 advantage into the break. Leading 37-35, Siena ripped off a 15-2 spurt, capped off by a trey by Degnan, to take a 52-37 lead with 12:54 remaining. Marist pulled to within seven, 56-49, on a layup by Ryan Funk with 5:14 left. The Saints outscored the Red Foxes 11-6 down the stretch to earn a 67-55 win on Senior Day.
Siena held Marist to just 36.2-percent shooting, including 2-of-17 from three-point range, while the Saints shot it at a 50-percent clip and connected on 9-of-28 attempts from behind the three-point line.
Parker led the Red Foxes with 15 points, four rebounds, six assists, and four steals.
Degnan paced Siena with a career-high 25 points, on 8-of-12 shooting, including 6-of-9 from deep, six rebounds, and two blocks. Fisher added 16 points, on 7-of-12 from the field, four assists, and two blocks. Pickett recorded a double-double off the bench with 11 points and 10 assists. The freshman guard finished with eight rebounds as well, just two boards away from a triple-double. Kadeem Smithen tallied nine points.
With two games still remaining in the regular season, Pickett became Siena’s all-time leading freshman scorer. To date, the nine-time MAAC Rookie of the Week has scored 448 points this season.
Siena honored their senior class, Fisher, Degnan, Kadeem Smithen, Braedon Bayer, and Paulo Morastoni, prior to the game.
With the win, the Saints improved to 15-14 overall, 10-6 in the MAAC, and are now in a four-way tie for second place with Quinnipiac, Canisius, and Rider. Iona sits alone atop the conference with a half-game lead over the four schools tied for second.
Player of the Week: Kevin Degnan
Despite outstanding efforts from multiple players, this week’s player of the week for Siena was Kevin Degnan. The senior big man averaged 16 points, on 55-percent shooting, including 53.8-percent from three, and six rebounds in the Saints’ two wins this week. With two games left in the regular season, Siena has an opportunity to set themselves up for a deep run in the MAAC Tournament. Degnan will need to play an integral role if Siena, who was picked to finish dead last in the MAAC in the preseason, wants to cut down the nets and advance to the “Big Dance.”
Up Next: Canisius and Niagara
The Saints close out the regular season with the Buffalo trip when they face Canisius and Niagara on the road next weekend.
Siena has a pivotal matchup with Canisius on Friday night. The game will be broadcasted nationally on ESPNU at 9pm. The Saints will look to avenge an earlier loss to the Golden Griffins and earn a split of the season series. Canisius defeated Siena 70-66 on January 5th. The Golden Griffins are 13-15 overall, 10-6 in the MAAC and are coming off an 87-80 loss to Iona. Canisius will take on Niagara on Wednesday before they host the Saints. The Golden Griffins are led by Takal Molson who is averaging 16.5 points, five rebounds, and two assists per game.
Siena will finish the regular season next Sunday afternoon at Niagara. Tip-off is set for 2pm. The Saints will look to sweep the season series from the Purple Eagles. Siena defeated the Niagara, 66-57, at the Times Union Center on January 17th. The Purple Eagles are 12-17 overall, 5-11 in the league, and are coming off a 78-60 loss to St. Peter’s. Niagara will battle with cross-town rival Canisius before they host the Saints. The Purple Eagles are led by Marvin Prochet who is averaging 16.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest.
Siena will earn a share of the MAAC regular season title if they sweep the Buffalo trip. The Saints will clinch a first round bye in the MAAC Tournament if they win at least one game next weekend. We will find out next Sunday as to what seed the Saints will earn in the MAAC Tournament.