Saints’ deep lineup set for challenge at ‘Broncs’ Zoo’

Siena goes from one tough gym to another today, when it faces MAAC-leading Rider.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

As much fun as it would be for the Siena Saints to sit back and

savor their overtime victory at Marist Friday night, they’ll do nothing of the sort.

The Saints can’t, because not only do they come right back with another game today, but it’s on the road against Rider, the team that dropped 59 points on Siena in the first half of an ugly loss on ESPN2 eight days ago.

With five games left in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference season, Siena (10-3, 15-8) is a game behind the Broncs (11-2, 18-6), who have been on a tear behind their NBA-bound center, 6-foot-11,

250-pound Jason Thompson.

Based on the victory at Marist, though, Siena can bring this into the game: The Saints are getting valuable contributions from up and down the roster.

That was never more evident than when two big men, Alex Franklin and Josh Duell, fouled out early in overtime against the Red Foxes, and Siena still outscored Marist,

18-9, for a 97-88 victory. Kenny Hasbrouck was magnificent, scoring 35 points to miss his career best by one, but Edwin Ubiles, Tay Fisher and Ronald Moore all made important plays in the closing moments of regulation and overtime.

“I was really proud of Tay Fisher,” Siena head coach Fran McCaffery said after the game. “In particular, he struggled in the first half, and I thought he was spectacular down the stretch.

“To win without Alexander and Josh on the floor, Cory Magee was terrific, and Tay Fisher, what can you say about him, with a huge three and made all his free throws. This was truly a team victory.”

“Like I said in the beginning of the year, we have so many weapons on our team, it’s not going to be one or two people that win a game for us,” Hasbrouck said.

Fisher’s stat line was misleadingly quiet, with seven points in 23 minutes. He was scoreless until 1:44 left in the game, when he made a three-pointer to put Siena ahead, 77-74.

After Marist’s Dejuan Goodwin missed two free throws with 42.5 seconds left, Fisher was 4-for-4 from the line to give the Saints a 95-85 lead with 25.4 seconds left.

Hasbrouck described the 3,200-seat McCann Center as “a wooden box”, and the Saints will play in another gym with tight walls today at Rider’s 1,650-seat Alumni Gym, nicknamed the “Broncs’ Zoo.”

McCaffery said playing in that type of environment — Siena lost in overtime at Marist last year — should toughen the Saints for difficult settings in the future.

“We had a very young team last year, and those guys played a ton of minutes,” he said. “Even though they’re often viewed as an exper­ienced team, they’re still very young. But that experience did help us, so that our players aren’t playing like sophomores. It was a great experience for our freshmen to be in this game. It’s a very unique game for a lot of reasons. We had three busloads of people come down.”

“Everybody was playing their hardest,” Hasbrouck said. “Even when we got down, nobody put their heads down, everyone just kept going, kept going. A lot of our home crowd came and supported us the whole time. They were standing up just about the whole game and gave us a lot of energy.”

Hasbrouck is one player who has had success against Rider.

He scored 59 points against the Broncs in two games last season, including a 36-point performance that was remarkably similar to his production against Marist on Friday, when he was 14-for-21 from the field and 5-for-7 on three-pointers.

He was 14-for-20 and 5-for-8 when he scored his career-high 36 in a loss last year.

On Friday, several of his three-pointers were from NBA range, as he shot as soon as he had some cushion between himself and his defender, no matter where the three-point stripe happened to be.

“I knew how far the rim was,” Hasbrouck said. “I was looking at the rim, and once I got close enough to the rim where I knew I could shoot it, I pulled it.

“I was yelling for the ball early in the shot clock, and Ron wouldn’t give it to me. He told me to calm down and just wait ’til the end of the shot clock.”

“He was doing what he was told,” McCaffery interjected, to laughter from the media.

Thompson, who tied a single-game career high with 21 rebounds in the 89-75 win over Siena, had 18 points and 14 rebounds as Rider survived a wild finish of their own on Friday, holding off Niagara,

80-76.

The Broncs led by eight with 3:11 left, but Tyrone Lewis scored 10 points in the final 2:12 to make it close.

Thompson made a free throw with 22 seconds left to give Rider a 78-76 lead, and Ryan Thompson rebounded the miss on the second free throw attempt by his brother, but turned it over.

Rider preserved the win when Kamron Warner stole it from Lewis with a second left, leading to two free throws by Harris Mansell.

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