The only thing that could keep Kenny Hasbrouck from scoring on Sunday was 15 minutes of halftime.
He scored Siena’s last seven points of the first half as the Saints took a 38-21 lead at the break, then picked up right where he left off, making two three-pointers after intermission.
Hasbrouck finished with 28 points as Siena defeated Saint Peter’s, 79-56, at the Times Union Center to improve to 3-0 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 8-5 overall.
It was Siena’s first game since being blown out at Memphis Thursday night, and the Saints tried to mimic the Tigers. It was a pretty good impersonation, as Siena took control early and never let up, especially Hasbrouck, who made 12 of 18 shots.
“It actually helped us a lot, especially me,” Hasbrouck said of Memphis’ 102-58 win, Siena’s worst loss since 1987-88. “It showed how focused and determined you have to be the whole game to be the best team in the nation. They came out to prove a point, let everybody know they were the best team in the country, and they weren’t going to let up on anybody.
“I think that’s how we came out, and we tried to stay aggressive, just like [Memphis] did, and prove that we’re going to be the best team in the MAAC.”
Siena used an 11-0 run, in which five different players scored, to take a 21-7 lead with 10:39 left in the first half.
The lead was never less than double figures the rest of the way.
The closest it got in the second half was 16 points with 9:13 left. Hasbrouck answered with a three, a pullup jumper and a runner to make it 69-48.
“I felt like I was in a groove, so I just wanted to come out and keep shooting,” Hasbrouck said. “I didn’t think about how I was going to score, but I knew I was going to keep on top of them offensively, because they were having trouble guarding me.”
“We had made a decision to go under ball screens and handoffs, and live with what happens,” Saint Peter’s head coach John Dunne said. “We went in with the mentality that we would adjust if they got hot. We wanted to contest the three, but those were the ones we were willing to give up if we could keep them from getting to the rim. He made us pay for it. He made a few off screens.”
That sounded a lot like the strategy used against Memphis by Siena, which packed its defense close to the basket and surrendered 11 three-pointers by the Tigers in the first half alone.
This time, it was the Saints who got hot from outside, and relentlessly finished off their opponent, on offense and defense.
In Hasbrouck’s case, he held Raul Orta to a quiet 16 points.
“The key for us as we approached this game was how we would respond after our game with Memphis,” Siena head coach Fran McCaffery said. “It gave our team an understanding of, when a team wants to win a national championship, how you play defense. I’ve been in the game a long time, and that was the most intense defense I have ever seen.
“With the exception of about a four, five-minute clip in the second half [against Saint Peter’s], that was about as complete a defensive effort as we could have.”
Another key matchup was freshman Ryan Rossiter, a tall, gangly post man who struggled mightily against Memphis’ Joey Porter, but did a good job negating the Peacocks’ 260-pounder, Todd Sowell, who finished with 10 points, just four in the first half.
Rossiter had 12 rebounds, seven points, two blocks, a steal and four assists against no turnovers.
“He’s [Porter] so strong, he’s 260 pounds of solid muscle, so I was just trying to give it my best effort the other night and body him up the best I could,” Rossiter said. “Sowell is also 260, but not as strong, but he uses his body very well. Playing teams like Memphis, you can learn a lot of things. I wanted to put the game behind me, we all did. We were all pretty down on ourselves.”
Power forward Josh Duell was hit in the mouth twice, and had to leave the game in the second half after getting a tooth jarred out of place.
His shot was blocked from behind on the fast break, and he caught an elbow that broke the bone in his upper mouth. He’ll see an oral surgeon today.
“Whatever. It was worth it, we got the win,” he said through a bloody grin with a stitch in his upper lip.
SAINT PETER’S (56)
Gooding 2-7 0-2 4, Sowell 5-10 0-2 10, Orta 5-6 3-4 16, Jenkins 3-12 0-0 7, Leon 2-5 0-0 5, Lampley 5-16 0-0 11, Traore 0-0 0-0 0, Feracho 1-1 0-0 3, Spitler 0-0 0-0 0, Costner 0-0 0-0 0, Hogga 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 23-58 3-8 56.
Ubiles 5-7 2-2 13, Rossiter 3-6 0-2 7, Fisher 3-8 0-0 8, Moore 4-8 0-0 8, Hasbrouck 12-18 0-0 28, De La Rosa 2-4 1-2 5, Duell 0-2 2-2 2, Jackson 2-4 0-0 5, Carr 0-0 0-0 0, Magee
0-2 2-2 2, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Priestley 0-0 1-2 1. Totals: 31-59 8-12 79.
Halftime: Siena 38, Saint Peter’s 21. Three-point goals: Saint Peter’s 7-20 (Sowell 0-1, Orta 3-4, Jenkins 1-6, Leon 1-2, Lampley 1-6, Feracho 1-1); Siena 9-19 (Ubiles 1-2, Rossiter 1-1, Fisher 2-6, Moore 0-1, Hasbrouck 4-5, De La Rosa 0-1, Duell 0-1, Jackson 1-2). Rebounds: Saint Peter’s 33 (Sowell 9); Siena 35 (Rossiter 12). Assists: Saint
Peter’s 13 (Gooding, Sowell, Lampley 3);
Siena 24 (Moore 7). Total fouls: Saint
Peter’s 11; Siena 10. Attendance: 4,542.