Syracuse entered the ACC Tournament feeling pretty good about their NCAA Tournament chances for the first time since 2013.
Despite being without leading scorer Tyus Battle due a lower back injury, the Orange defeated Pittsburgh, 73-59, in the first round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday night. Syracuse trailed the Panthers, 36-30, at halftime, but used an 8-0 run with all 8 points scored by Buddy Boeheim to take a 43-39 lead early in the second stanza. The Orange would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
After shooting 60-percent from three-point range in the first half, Pittsburgh cooled down and shot just 30.8-percent from deep after the break. Conversely, Syracuse heated up from beyond the arc down the stretch, shooting 54.6-percent from three in the second half.
Jared Wilson-Frame led the Panthers with 24 points, on 8-of-16 from three-point land, and seven rebounds. Sidy N’Dir added 10 points in the losing effort.
Boeheim paced Syracuse with 20 points, on 6-of-13 shooting, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Elijah Hughes and Frank Howard scored 18 points apiece. Hughes also grabbed four rebounds, dished out three assists, and came away with two steals.
The Orange squared off with Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament on Thursday night. Battle missed his second straight game with a lower back injury. After rallying back from as much as a 17 point deficit in the first half, Syracuse tied the game at 46 on a triple by Boeheim with 13:02 to go. The Blue Devils pulled away down the stretch to win 84-72.
In a turnover plagued affair, Duke outshot the Orange as the Blue Devils shot 53.7-percent from the floor, compared to 48.1-percent shooting for Syracuse.
The real difference in the game was that Duke has the best player in the country and the likely #1 pick in the NBA Draft Zion Williamson. Williamson, who returned after missing five consecutive games with a sprained knee, erupted for 29 points on a perfect 13-of-13 from the floor, 14 rebounds, and five steals. Fellow freshman phenomenon RJ Barrett tallied 23 points, on 8-of-16 from the field, and six rebounds. Freshman point guard Tre Jones finished with 15 points and eight assists.
Howard led the Orange with a career-high 28 points, on 11-of-2o shooting, and three assists. Boeheim poured in 15 points, while Oshae Brissett finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Despite the loss, Syracuse entered the NCAA Tournament with a record of 20-13. Howard was named to the ACC Tournament Second Team, while Williamson was named the MVP after Duke won the championship game over Florida State, 73-63, Saturday night.
Battle is expected to return in the NCAA Tournament, but playing without him in the ACC Tournament gave others the opportunity to step up, specifically, Howard and Boeheim.
Player of the Week: Frank Howard
This week’s player of the week for Syracuse was Frank Howard. After a lower leg injury caused him to miss the first four games of the season, Howard did not play to the form he showed he was capable of during his junior campaign. The senior point guard averaged 23 points on 50-percent shooting in Battle’s absence at the ACC Tournament. With Battle back and Howard and Boeheim shooting with confidence, the Orange just might be poised to make another run in the “Big Dance.”
Up Next: The NCAA Tournament vs. #9 Baylor
For the first time since 2013, Syracuse did not have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday. This year, the Orange were firmly in and earned the 8-seed in the West Region. Syracuse will take on the 9-seed Baylor in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tip-off is set for Thursday night at 9:57pm. The game will be seen on truTV. The Bears are 19-13 overall and are coming off an 83-66 loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals. Baylor is led by Tristan Clark who is averaging 14.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
If the Orange were to defeat the Bears, they would take on the winner of the game between the 1-seed Gonzaga and the 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson, who defeated Prairie View in the First Four Tuesday night.
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.
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.
After winning seven of eight, the Siena Saints have slipped back into a tie for fifth place in the MAAC after losing to Iona and Quinnipiac at home this week.
Siena looked to sweep the season series from Iona when they hosted the defending MAAC champions on Wednesday night. The Saints took a 30-26 lead into halftime. The Gaels opened the second stanza with a 10-0 run and took a 36-30 advantage after Asante Gist converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 16:47 left. Siena responded and used a 21-2 spurt to build a 51-38 lead on a triple by Jalen Pickett with eight minutes remaining. Iona refused to go away. The Gaels closed the contest with a 19-1 run to close out a 57-52 win on the road.
Iona held Siena to 37.5-shooting, while the Gaels shot it at a 40.4-percent clip. Iona also outrebounded the Saints 38-31.
Tajuan Agee led the Gaels with 25 points, on 9-of-17 shooting, 13 rebounds, and two steals.
Evan Fisher paced Siena with 17 points, on 7-of-18 from the field, four rebounds, a steal, and a block. Sloan Seymour added 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, while Pickett stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, five rebounds, four assists, four steals, and three blocks.
The Saints looked to rebound from their loss to MAAC rival with a win over Quinnipiac. The winner would be tied with Canisius atop the conference. The lone regular season meeting between the two schools this year was an epic fight. Siena held a 20-18 advantage after a layup by Pickett with 6:10 to go before intermission. The Bobcats ended the half on a 21-4 spurt and took a 39-24 lead into the break. Quinnipiac built a 20-point advantage, 54-34, on a trey by Rich Kelly with 14:46 to play. The Saints would not go away. Siena rallied all the way back and took a 71-70 lead on a layup by Pickett with 1:27 remaining in regulation. Trailing 75-73, the Saints’ Manny Camper stole the ball from the Bobcats’ Jacob Rigoni. Camper sent the game into overtime tying it at 75 after converting a layup with five seconds left in regulation off an assist from Pickett.
Trailing by two, 86-84, Siena forced a second overtime when Pickett converted a layup with 0.5 seconds left. Seymour gave the Saints a 93-90 advantage when he connected on a three-pointer with 37 seconds to go in double overtime. On the ensuing possession, Cameron Young drew Quinnipiac even when he nailed a three of his own with 24 ticks on the clock. Pickett’s three at the buzzer was unsuccessful, and the game was sent to a third overtime. Young converted on an “and-one” opportunity with 4:43 to play in the third overtime period and gave the Bobcats a 96-93 lead that they would not relinquish. Quinnipiac pulled away to win 107-100 in three overtimes.
With the loss, Siena slipped to a tie for fifth place in the league with Iona and are now 13-14 overall and 8-6 in the MAAC. However, the Saints sit just one game out of first place.
The game was a tale of two incredible individual performances. Cameron Young of Quinnipiac scored 55 points, the highest individual scoring output by anyone in a game in Division I college basketball this season. The senior guard shot 15-of-24 and pulled down 10 rebounds to help his team secure the win on the road. Siena’s Jalen Pickett tallied 46 points, on 14-of-26 shooting, dished out 13 assists, and came away with four steals in the losing effort. With these performances, Young will likely land MAAC Player of the Week honors, while Pickett will be in contention for his ninth MAAC Rookie of the Week honor of the season.
Rich Kelly poured in 24 points, on 9-of-15 from the floor, for the Bobcats.
The Saints’ Manny Camper dropped in a career-high 21 points, on 8-of-14 from the field, and five rebounds before fouling out in the third overtime. Kevin Degnan finished with 15 points and eight boards.
With his final three against Quinnipiac, freshman Sloan Seymour tied Scott Knapp’s program record for the most three-pointers made in a season by a newcomer. Seymour will have the chance to break the record over the course of Siena’s final four games of the regular season.
The Bobcats shot 50.7-percent from the field, including 15-of-30 from beyond the arc, while Siena shot 42.9-percent from the floor and 11-of-33 from deep. Quinnipiac bullied the Saints on the boards, winning the battle on the glass 50-31.
With the win, Quinnipiac moved into a tie with Canisius for first place in the MAAC.
Player of the Week: Manny Camper
Although Jalen Pickett’s performance against the Bobcats was one of the best individual performances in the country this season, this week’s player of the week for Siena was Manny Camper. His 21 points against Quinnipiac was a welcomed surprise. Coach Jamion Christian had mentioned that Camper needed to be more of a threat on the offensive end for the Saints moving forward and the sophomore certainly stepped up. If Siena hopes to earn a bye in the MAAC Tournament (which is now only three weeks away), Camper’s continued improvement on the offensive end would be crucial to their success in securing a top seed.
Up Next: St. Peter’s and Marist
Siena continues their four-game home stand when they host St. Peter’s and Marist at the Times Union Center this coming week. The Saints will look to split the season series with St. Peter’s when the schools meet on Tuesday night at 7pm. The Peacocks won the first meeting between the two schools, 65-60, in Jersey City, New Jersey on January 3rd. St. Peter’s is 6-19 overall, 3-10 in the league, and are coming off a 71-65 loss to Rider. The Peacocks are led by Davauhnte Turner who is averaging 16.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game.
The Saints will host Marist on Sunday in a Senior Day matinee at 2pm. Siena will honor seniors Evan Fisher, Kevin Degnan, Kadeem Smithen, Braedon Bayer, and Paulo Morastoni before the game. The Saints will hope to sweep the season series from the Red Foxes. Marist is 12-14 overall, 7-7 in conference, and is coming off a 75-67 win over Monmouth. The Red Foxes will host St. Peter’s on Friday before traveling up to Albany on Sunday. Marist is led by Brian Parker who is averaging 14.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per contest.
In the preseason, Siena was picked to finish last in the MAAC. After Sunday’s win at preseason favorite Rider, the Saints sit just half a game out of first place, tied for second with Canisius.
Looking to build a winning streak following their triumph over Iona on the road last Saturday, Siena hosted Fairfield on Monday at the Times Union Center. Both teams shot the ball over 50-percent from the floor in the first half and the Saints took a 38-32 lead into the break. The Stags tied the game at 47 on a layup by Wassef Methnani with 10:05 left. Siena used an 8-0 run to pull away capped off with a layup by Kadeem Smithen with 3:43 remaining. Siena picked up 12 consecutive defensive stops over that stretch and won 61-50.
After allowing Fairfield to shoot 52-percent in the opening stanza, the Saints held the Stags to 29.2-percent shooting over the course of the final twenty minutes. Siena’s defense also forced Fairfield into 17 turnovers. The Saints shot it at a 47.9-percent from the field, including 56.3-percent from three.
Landon Taliaferro led the Stags with 14 points.
Siena was paced by Evan Fisher who tallied 18 points, on 8-of-16 shooting, and four rebounds. Jalen Pickett stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, five boards, three assists, a block, and a steal. Kevin Deganan chipped in with 10 points, five rebounds, and three steals.
The Saints hoped to push their win streak to three when they traveled downstate to take on the Manhattan Jaspers at Draddy Gymnasium. It was a defensive affair throughout. Manhattan held Siena to 25-percent from the field in the first half and took a 17-16 advantage into the intermission. Siena turned it around in the second half and took a 14 point lead, 43-29, on a jumper by Fisher with 6:59 to go. The Jaspers rallied all the way back within two, 51-49, when Nehemiah Mack made a layup with four seconds left in the contest. Pickett missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Mack’s heave at the buzzer fell short and Siena prevailed.
Siena flexed its muscles on defense yet again holding Manhattan to 40-percent from the floor and forced the Jaspers into 16 turnovers. Siena pulled out the win despite shooting a dreadful 37.3-percent from the field.
Tyler Reynolds led Manhattan with 18 points, on 6-of-10 from the floor, and nine rebounds.
Fisher scored 18 points, on 8-of-15 shooting, and pulled down six boards to lead the Saints to victory.
Siena traveled to Lawrenceville, New Jersey Sunday afternoon to battle with the Rider Broncs. Entering the game, the Saints were engaged in a four way tie with Rider, Canisius, and Quinnipiac for second place in the MAAC. Siena opened up a 31-21 lead on a layup by Degnan with 3:26 to play in the opening stanza, but the Broncs came back to cut the Saints’ lead to 33-32 at halftime. Siena opened up a 46-36 advantage with 13:48 left when Smithen connected on a pair of free throws. As they did in the first twenty minutes, Rider stormed back and used a 13-3 run to tie the game at 49 with 8:14 remaining. With the game tied once again at 57, Manny Camper connected on a free throw with 36 ticks on the clock to give the Saints a 58-57 lead. Smithen connected on a free throw to extend Siena’s advantage to 59-57 with four seconds left on the clock. Jordan Allen missed a three-pointer at the buzzer and the Saints hung on to win another close game on the road.
Siena’s defense was stout throughout yet again. The Saints held the Broncs to 33.9-percent from the field, including an abysmal 1-of-16 (6.3-percent) from three-point land. Siena forced Rider into 13 turnovers as well. The Saints hung on even though they only shot 36-percent from the field.
Tyere Marshall led the Broncs with 19 points, on 8-of-14 shooting, and five rebounds.
Siena’s senior leadership proved to be the difference in the game as Fisher poured in 21 points, on 8-of-19 from the floor, and eight rebounds, while Smithen finished with 16 points, six boards, and four steals.
The Saints rank 30th nationally in scoring defense, holding opponents to 64.7 points per game, and are forcing their opponents into 16.5 turnovers per contest (40th in the nation).
Siena, who has won seven of their last eight games, is 13-12 overall, 8-4 in the MAAC and is tied for second place in the conference with Canisius – just a half game behind Monmouth.
Player of the Week: Evan Fisher
This week’s player of the week for Siena is Evan Fisher. The senior big man has been a key cog in the Saints’ success of late. Fisher averaged 19 points, on 48-percent shooting, and six rebounds as Siena extended their win streak to four this week. His play on the court and leadership are pivotal to fuel Siena as they enter the home stretch.
Up Next: Iona and Quinnipiac
Siena begins its four game home stand when they host MAAC rival Iona on Wednesday at the Times Union Center. Tip-off is set for 7pm. The Saints will look to sweep the season series from the Gaels. Last Saturday, Siena defeated Iona 56-54 in New Rochelle. The Gaels are 8-15 overall, 6-6 in the MAAC, and are coming off a 79-76 win over Niagara on Sunday. Iona is led by EJ Crawford who is averaging 17.9 points and five rebounds per game.
Next Sunday, the Saints will play host to Quinnipiac. Tip-off is set for 2pm. This will be the only meeting between the two schools this season. The Bobcats are 12-10 overall, 7-4 in the MAAC, and are coming off a 66-65 win over Iona on Friday. Quinnipiac is led by Cameron Young who is averaging 21.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest. Last year, the Bobcats swept the season series from Siena and ended their season in the MAAC Tournament winning 67-58 in Albany.
Siena enters February as winners of four of their last five and have put themselves in position to contend for a bye in next month’s MAAC Tournament.
After beating Niagara, the Saints traveled to Bridgeport, Connecticut last Thursday to take on the Fairfield Stags. Siena took a 29-24 lead into the break after holding the Stags to 26.7-percent shooting in the first twenty minutes. Fairfield pulled to within six, 38-32, on a layup by Jesus Cruz with 10:47 remaining in the game. The Saints used a 7-2 run to pull away and earn a 57-48 win on the road in conference play.
Siena’s defense was stout throughout the contest and held the Stags to 35.7-percent from the field and 17.4-percent from three. The Saints also forced Fairfield into 18 turnovers. Siena buried the Stags by shooting 42.6-percent to earn the win.
Wassef Methnani came off the bench to lead Fairfield with 15 points, on 6-of-10 from the floor, five rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.
Jalen Pickett paced the Saints with 20 points, on 8-of-10 shooting, four rebounds, three assists, and four steals. Evan Fisher chipped in with 11 points and six boards.
Siena extended their win streak to three with a 53-40 victory over Manhattan last Saturday night in front of a season record 7,146 fans in attendance at the Times Union Center. The Saints took a 23-17 advantage into intermission as their defense was stout yet again in the first half—holding the Jaspers to a just 30-percent from the field in the opening stanza. Siena shot a blistering 56.5-percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes and used a 15-6 spurt midway through the second half to earn the win.
The Saints held Manhattan to 36.6-percent shooting and forced the Jaspers into 15 turnovers as their defense continued to puzzle opponents. Siena shot 46.9-perent from the field and held a 13-2 advantage in points off turnovers in the victory.
Tyler Reynolds led Manhattan with 12 points and four rebounds and was the only Jasper to score in double figures in the game.
Pickett was the lone Saint in double figures as he scored 18 points, on 8-of-14 from the floor, and grabbed five boards.
Siena looked to extend their win streak to four when they traveled to the Jersey Shore to battle with the Monmouth Hawks. The Saints were looking to avenge a 63-60 overtime loss to Monmouth on January 14th at home. Siena raced out to a 27-13 lead, but the Hawks used a 21-0 run to close the first half and open the second twenty minutes to take a 34-27 advantage. Sloan Seymour stopped the bleeding with a triple with 17:31 left in the contest. The Saints tied the game at 46 with 8:07 to go. Siena trailed 53-52 with 4:51 to play, but Monmouth closed the game on a 13-3 spurt to claim a 66-55 win.
The Hawks shot 47.6-percent from the field and held the Saints to a 36.4-percent clip. Monmouth outrebounded Siena 34-28 and forced the visitors into 14 turnovers.
Deion Hammond led the Hawks with 16 points and four rebounds in the win.
Seymour paced the Saints with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc. Fisher added 14 points and three boards, while Pickett finished with 11 points, four rebounds, and five assists in the losing effort.
Siena looked to get back above .500 in conference play when they traveled to New Rochelle, New York to square off against Iona in a clash between MAAC rivals in a Saturday matinee. The Saints took a 27-26 lead into halftime. After falling behind 46-39 with 9:05 remaining in the game, Siena rattled off a 15-0 run, capped off by a free throw by Manny Camper, to gain a 54-46 with 3:24 to go. The Gaels would not go away easily and pulled to within two as Ricky McGill converted a free throw with 15 ticks on the clock. McGill stole Fisher’s inbound pass, but Iona missed four consecutive shots and Siena held on for a 56-54 victory on the road.
The Saints shot 41.2-percent from the field and held the Gaels to 36-percent shooting. Siena also outrebounded Iona 34-32 to emerge victorious.
EJ Crawford tallied a game-high 19 points, on 6-of-11 from the floor, and four rebounds to pace the Gaels.
Pickett poured in all 17 of his points in the second half to lead the Saints. Fisher contributed with 12 points, on 5-of-11 shooting, and five rebounds in the win.
Siena is 10-12 overall, 5-4 in league play, and sits in a tie with Quinnipiac for fourth place in the MAAC. The Saints can taste a first round bye in the MAAC Tournament as they enter the first full week of February.
Player of the Week: Jalen Pickett
This week’s player of the week for Siena is Jalen Pickett. Pickett has emerged as the best freshman in the conference and has claimed the MAAC Rookie of the Week Award seven times this season, including each of the last five weeks. Over the past four games, he has averaged 16.5 points, on 50-percent shooting, 3.8 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. After being picked to finish last in the conference, the Saints are making noise near the top of the standings, and Pickett is a major reason why.
Up Next: Fairfield, Manhattan, and Rider
Siena concludes a stretch of three games in five days when they host Fairfield Monday night. Tip-off is set for 7pm. The Saints will look to sweep the season series from the Stags. Fairfield is now 7-16 on the season, 4-7 in the MAAC, and is coming off a 57-52 win at Marist on Saturday. The Stags are led by Landon Taliaferro who is averaging 12 points per contest.
Siena travels to Draddy Gymnasium to face Manhattan on Friday night. Tip-off is set for 7pm. The Saints will look to sweep the season series from the Jaspers. Manhattan is tied for seventh in the conference with Niagara with an overall record of 6-16 and 4-6 in the MAAC. The Jaspers are coming off a 64-50 victory over St. Peter’s on Saturday. Manhattan will host Rider before Siena comes into town. The Jaspers are led by Warren Williams who is averaging 8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
The Saints will travel to Lawrenceville, New Jersey for a meeting with the Rider Broncs next Sunday. Tip-off is set for 2pm. This will be the lone regular season meeting between the two schools this season. Rider stands atop the MAAC at 12-9 overall, 7-2 in the league, and is coming off a 75-71 loss at Monmouth on Saturday. The Broncs will play at Manhattan and home against Canisius before tipping off against Siena next Sunday. Rider is led by Frederick Scott who is averaging 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest.
If you’re like me, you’re probably feeling a little empty not having any college basketball to look forward to this weekend. Let’s take a step back to remember the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
This year’s “Big Dance” featured an upset for the ages, a Cinderella run that made a nun an international sensation, buzzer beaters, the agony of defeat and, most importantly, the best team won it all.
The National Champs: Villanova
Jay Wright did it. Two National Championships in three years. Villanova has become the program to beat in college basketball. The Wildcats dominated in March as they won all of their games in the NCAA Tournament by double-digits. Wright joined an exclusive club by cutting down the nets for the second time in his career as he joined Coach K and Roy Williams as the only active coaches to win multiple championships. National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges will likely forego their senior seasons and enter the NBA Draft, but Coach Wright will bring back three starters, Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, and Omari Spellman, and Donte DiVincenzo, who came off the bench and scored 31 points in the title game on Monday. The Wildcats have been the most dominant program over the last five years and with Wright at the helm, there is a culture of winning in Philadelphia. Villanova will be back next year to defend their title and create a dynasty.
The Runners-Up: Michigan
Michigan was the hottest team in the country entering the NCAA Tournament and rode their streak all the way to Championship Monday where they ran into the buzz saw that was Villanova. Mo Wagner’s decision to return to Ann Arbor paid dividends as he led his squad back to the National Championship game for the first time since 2013. John Beilein had the best defensive squad of his career that gave opponents fits throughout the month of March. The run to San Antonio almost didn’t happen as the Wolverines needed a buzzer beater by freshman Jordan Poole to get past Houston in the second round and led to one of the best celebrations of the Tournament. Wagner and seniors Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson will depart, but Michigan will be back with a talented recruiting class next season.
We witnessed history in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. For the first time in history, a 16-seed upset a 1-seed in the first round. Many had hinted at the fact that an Ivy League school, Penn, presented the best chance for a 16-seed to take down a 1-seed in their match-up with Kansas. When that didn’t happen on the first Thursday of the Tournament, many thought we would have to wait at a chance for history until next year. Enter Jairius Lyles and the UMBC Retrievers. In the final set of first round contests, UMBC took the world by storm—both on the court and on Twitter. The Retrievers stayed with Virginia and did not back down when the game was tied at 21 at halftime. UMBC outscored the #1 overall seeed 53-33 in the second half, busting pretty much every bracket filled out this year as the Cavaliers were a favorite to win it all. The three point shooting and defense by the Retrievers sent Kyle Guy and the rest of the Virginia team home crying as the first #1 to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history. Tony Bennett was without a key piece, De’Andre Hunter, that Friday night in Charlotte. Maybe this would not have happened with him in the lineup, but Bennett will have to wait another year for a chance at the Final Four.
K-State to the Elite Eight
Kansas State got past Creighton in the first round and instead of having to face Virginia, they were up against Cinderella UMBC in the second round. The Wildcats dispatched the Retrievers and then took down Kentucky in Atlanta to make the Elite Eight for the first time since 2018. More impressively, Kansas State made their run without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade, who suffered a foot injury in the Big 12 Tournament. Although they were unable to get past Loyola-Chicago and make the Final Four, the Wildcats may have saved Bruce Weber’s job.
Buffalo Beats Zona
Buffalo knocked out Arizona in the first round. The Wildcats were a favorite to make a run to the Final Four, but an impressive shooting performance and stout defense by the Bulls made for an early exit for Sean Miller’s team. With the outcome of the FBI investigation still unknown, the future of Arizona basketball is uncertain as they will lose Deandre Ayton, Allonzo Trier, and Rawle Alkins to the NBA and Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Dusan Ristic to graduation.
Sister Jean and Loyola-Chicago
Loyola-Chicago became the fourth 11-seed to make the Final Four and in doing so, their Team Chaplain Sister Jean became an international sensation at 98 years young. Donte Ingram’s buzzer beater to beat Miami was one of the highlights of the first round, but the Ramblers proved they weren’t done yet. They took down the 3-seeed Tennessee on a jumper in the waning seconds by Clayton Custer. Marques Townes’ dagger was enough to beat Nevada and advance to the Elite Eight where they blew out Kansas State. Their run came to an end with a loss to Michigan in the Final Four, but the Missouri Valley Champs took the world by storm in the month of March.
Nevada led for only 1:56 of its first two games of the NCAA Tournament, but managed to make the Sweet Sixteen. The Wolfpack trailed Texas by 14 points in the second half, but came back to win in overtime to advance to the Round of 32. There, Nevada erased a 22 point Cincinnati lead and came back to eliminate the second seeded Bearcats from the “Big Dance.” The Wolfpack lost to Loyola-Chicago in the Sweet Sixteen, but they will return most of their core from this year’s team and could be a top ten team next season.
Florida State to the Elite Eight
Many were saying that Florida State was the worst at-large team to receive an NCAA Tournament bid this year. The Seminoles proved the haters wrong and took down Missouri in the first round before they pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the Tournament, knocking off top-seeded Xavier in the second round to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Florida State’s run would not end there, as they took down a Gonzaga team without Killian Tillie. The Seminoles ended their season just short of the Final Four as they fell 58-54 to Michigan. If nothing else, they proved they belonged.
Texas A&M Takes Down the Tar Heels
In a season filled with ups and downs, Texas A&M’s NCAA Tournament run proved to be just that. The Aggies battled through injuries and suspensions to earn a 7-seed in the “Big Dance,” but drew the 10-seed Providence, who was one of the hottest teams entering the Tournament. Texas A&M ended the Friars’ season and went on to the Round of 32 where they pummeled North Carolina. In a poetic end to their tumultuous season, the Aggies were crushed by Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen. With Tyler Davis and Robert Williams both declaring for the NBA Draft, it will be interesting to see what the future looks like in College Station.
Marshall Shocks Wichita State
In a year where there were no 12-5 upsets, the 13-seeds stole the show. Buffalo beat Arizona and Marshall knocked off Wichita State. Jon Elmore’s sharp-shooting led the Thundering Herd past the Shockers and into the second round where they were ousted by in-state rival West Virginia, but an upset win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament is definitely something that Marshall, who finished fourth in Conference USA, should be proud of.
The 2-3 Zone Did it Again
Syracuse snuck into the NCAA Tournament as the last team to make the field, but the Orange were not satisfied with only receiving a bid. Jim Boeheim’s patented 2-3 zone puzzled opponents as Syracuse defeated Arizona State, TCU, and Michigan State, three teams averaging over 80 points a game to less than 60 on their way to the Sweet Sixteen. Their run was cut short as they fell 69-65 to Duke, but the NCAA Tournament run put a positive ending on a season where the Orange remained on the Bubble to the very end. If leading scorer Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett return, Syracuse could be poised to make another run in next year’s Tournament. Darius Bazley’s decision to decommit from the Orange and enter the G-League was unfortunate and leaves the team’s status for next season more uncertain, but Jalen Carey, Buddy Boeheim, and East Carolina-transfer Elijah Hughes will provide more depth at he guard position for next year’s team.
Game of the Tournament: Duke vs. Kansas—Elite Eight
The line in “One Shining Moment”—In the blinking of an eye that moment’s gone, couldn’t be more of a reality for the Duke Blue Devils as Grayson Allen’s potential game-winning rolled off the rim and out at the end of regulation. Kansas’ Malik Newman scored all 13 of the Jayhawks’ points in the overtime period to punch their ticket to San Antonio where they lost to eventual champion Villanova in the Final Four. Both Duke and Kansas will be title favorites heading into next season. Coach K and the Blue Devils have adopted the one-and-done strategy. The 2018-19 roster will look completely different for Duke. All five are their starters from this season’s team will be first round draft picks. Duke has the top recruiting class in the country next season as they welcome four of the top fifteen recruits in the country, including all of the top three recruits, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish, to Durham next fall. Tre Jones, the 12th ranked recruit and younger brother of 2015 Final four Most Outstanding Player, Tyus Jones, who also played at Duke, will also join the squad. Kansas is the way-too-early preseason #1 with Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick returning. The Jayhawks have a pair of five-star guards coming to Lawrence in the fall: Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes. Bill Self will also add Memphis-transfers K.J. Lawson and Dedric Lawson and Cal-transfer Charlie Moore, all of which will be eligible to play next season.
The Road Begins Now
The 2017-18 season has come and gone and it was surely a wild one. Congratulations to the Villanova Wildcats who reign superior this year. The Road to the 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis begins now.