MAAC Tournament Recap: Siena
Siena entered the MAAC Tournament as the five-seed and took on fourth-seeded Rider in the quarterfinals on Saturday night. The Saints raced out to a 19-12 lead following a jumper by Jalen Pickett with 11:42 left in the first half. With the score knotted at 27, Frederick Scott’s layup gave the Broncs a two point advantage. Sloan Seymour knocked down a three-pointer to give Siena a 30-29 lead entering the break. The second stanza was a back-and-forth affair, but the Saints used a decisive 13-1 run, capped off by a layup by Kevin Degnan, to take a 77-66 advantage with 1:27 to go. Siena sunk their foul shots down the stretch and hung on to win 87-81.
Siena scored a season-high 57 points in the second half and shot a blistering 81-percent from the field in the final twenty minutes. Rider held a 44-22 edge in points in the paint and 27-3 on second chance points, but the Saints outscored the Broncs 36-21 from three-point range. For the game, Siena shot 65.1-percent from the floor and held Rider to 46.3-percent shooting. The Saints connected on 12-of-21 of their attempts from deep, while the Broncs converted on just 7-of-23 of their shots from deep.
Rider was led by their big man, Tyere Marshall, who scored 22 points, on 10-of-15 from the field, eight rebounds, and two blocks.
Siena’s balanced attack was paced by Evan Fisher’s 22 points, on 7-of-11 from the floor, and six rebounds. Pickett tallied 20 points, dished out six assists, blocked four shots, and came away with two steals. Seymour dropped career-highs of 18 points and six made threes. Degnan added 13 points and seven rebounds, while Kadeem Smithen chipped in with 11 points, three assists, and two steals off the bench.
Pickett recorded his 65th steal of his freshman campaign, which broke Marquis Wright’s freshman record set during the 2013-14 season.
Siena faced top-seeded and defending MAAC Tournament Champion Iona in the semifinals. The Gaels jumped out to an early 7-0 lead following a layup by Ben Perez with 18:20 remaining in the opening stanza. Smithen connected on back-to-back threes to pull the Saints within one, 7-6, with 16:50 to play before intermission. Iona led by as many as 16 in the first half, but Rickey McGill’s buzzer beater gave the Gaels a 35-22 advantage at the break. Siena never trailed by less than double-digits over the course of the final twenty minutes and Iona ended the Saints’ season, handing them a 73-57 defeat.
For the fourth time in the last five years, Iona defeated Siena in the MAAC Tournament.
Iona, being the one-seed, had an extra day of rest between the quarterfinals and the semifinals. The Gaels looked well-rested, while Siena came out noticeably flat. Iona shot 49.1-percent from the field, including 9-0f-20 from three. The Gaels held the Saints to 37.3-percent from the floor. Siena converted on just 8-of-28 of their attempts from deep.
Iona was led by Asante Gist who finished with 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
Pickett and Fisher led the Saints scoring 15 points apiece. Pickett pulled down seven rebounds and dished out eight assists, while Fisher grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots. Fisher was ejected after picking up his second technical foul with 2:48 to go. The senior left the Times Union Center for the final time and waived to the crowd as the student section chanted his name.
Siena closed out their first season under head coach Jamion Christian with a record of 17-16, a nine-win improvement from last year’s disaster under former head coach Jimmy Patsos. In the season-ending loss to Iona, the Saints set the single-season record for three-pointers made in program history with 284.
Next year, the Saints will be without the services of seniors Kevin Degnan, Kadeem Smithen, Braedon Bayer, Paulo Morastoni, and Second Team All-MAAC selection Evan Fisher.
Two key returners to next season’s team are MAAC Rookie of the Year and First Team All-MAAC performer, Jalen Pickett, and MAAC Rookie Team Selection Sloan Seymour.