As hard as it is to believe, Jason Thompson actually played better against Siena this time than he did last week.
But so did the Saints . . . much better.
Scotia native Josh Duell scored eight points in the final 1:35, including the game-winning three-pointer with 1.3 seconds left, as Siena beat Rider, 80-77, at Alumni Gym on Sunday to move into a tie with the Broncs for first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference at 11-3 with four games left.
Duell, a 6-foot-7, 259-pound forward with good three-point range, cut around the edge of the stripe from the left side of the court, caught a pass from Kenny Hasbrouck near the top of the arc and shot it all in one motion. The ball barely rustled the net as Duell wildly swung his fist in celebration while galloping to center court, and the Siena bench erupted.
Rider came out of a 30-second timeout with 6-6 Ryan Thompson inbounding from the far baseline against freshman center Ryan Rossiter, and Thompson was able to heave it to his brother, Jason, who outjumped two Siena players for the ball, turned at the three-point line, squared to the basket and shot it, but the ball bounced off the front of the rim and away.
“The whole play was made by Kenny Hasbrouck,” Duell said. “I just caught it and shot.”
“I wanted the last shot, obviously, because I didn’t want them to blow it down the floor,” Siena head coach Fran McCaffery said. “It was a set play where we put it in Kenny’s hands, he makes a great pass, and if we miss, it goes to overtime. I could live with that. Josh had just made another big shot, so I was comfortable with him taking it.”
“Duell made it from 25 feet; actually, I thought it was a good defensive sequence for us,” Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey said.
Siena improved to 16-8 overall, and Rider had a 10-game winning streak stopped and fell to 18-7.
Jason Thompson, who scored 23 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in an 89-75 win by the Broncs over Siena last week, scored 26 points and had 24 rebounds — 12 in each half — to miss the MAAC regular-season single-game rebound record by one. Darren Phillip had 25 for Fairfield against Marist in 2000.
He was upstaged by Duell, who finished with 14 points, and Alex Franklin had a big game against the much bigger Thompson, scoring 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
“I’m tired,” said Duell, one of four Saints who took turns guarding the 6-11, 250-pound NBA prospect. “I just tried to lean on him, and we rotated some different people in on him, but the kid’s a great player.”
Ryan Thompson gave Rider the momentum with a lefty reverse in transition for a 75-69 Broncs’ lead with 1:58 left.
Duell got the Saints right back in it, hitting a three after another gritty play by Hasbrouck, who hurled himself at an angle to outrebound two Broncs for a long offensive rebound.
He got it to Duell in the left corner, and he made it 75-73 with 1:35 left.
The Broncs helped Siena stay in it by missing free throws down the stretch. Justin Robinson missed the front end of a one-and-one that led to a wild driving hook across the lane by Duell to tie it at 75-75 with 57 seconds left.
“I knew I had a step, and I saw Thompson out of the corner of my eye, and just got it off,” Duell said.
Thompson missed one of two free throws with 40.4 seconds left, then Siena guard Ronald Moore, who was instrumental in pushing the Saints upcourt in transition in the second half, banked in a drive with 34 seconds left.
Franklin picked up his fourth foul at the other end, sending Thompson to the line again with 16.1 seconds left, but his first attempt bounced hard off the back iron, and his second one went in to tie it at 77-77.
Hasbrouck and Duell took it from there.
“We just beat a very, very good team,” McCaffery said. “We jumped them early, they came back, then our effort in the second half was impressive.”
“They hit some shots in the end,” Thompson said. “It was two great offensive teams going at it, and they just made more shots than we did in the end.”
“I forgot how bad this feels, to lose, but we got outplayed today,” Dempsey said.
Moore had 12 of his points and six of his assists in the second half.
“The first half, I was unsatisfied with how I played,” he said.
“He’s maybe been the key to our team lately,” McCaffery said. “He was [playing] good, but not what we wanted. We have higher expectations for him, so we challenged him, and I think he’s taken his game up in the last three games. Clearly, he was the best point guard out there today, no disrespect to anyone.”
The Broncs outscored Siena, 17-5, in the final five minutes of the first half to take a 38-34 lead.
Ryan Thompson had had a quiet first half until he scored on a spin move in the lane and a three-pointer set up by Jason Thompson’s fourth blocked shot of the half.
After Harris Mansell gave Rider a 36-32 lead with a three-pointer, Ronald Moore answered with a pull-up in the lane, but Mansell scored on a drive to make it
“The way we ended the first half was not the way that we could play and win the game,” McCaffery said.
The Saints led by as much as 10 points twice midway through the half.
Franklin’s short jumper over Jason Thompson made it 23-13, and Clarence Jackson’s spin move made it 27-18 with 7:04 left, but then Siena’s offense got quiet.
Duell 5-9 1-1 14, Ubiles 3-12 0-0 7, Franklin 10-16 0-0 20, Moore 7-15 1-2 17, Hasbrouck 6-12 4-5 18, Fisher 0-2 0-0 0, Jackson 1-4 0-0 2, Rossiter 0-0 0-0 0, Magee 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 33-71 6-8 80.
J. Thompson 9-20 8-12 26, Ringgold 1-3
0-0 2, R. Thompson 6-7 0-1 13, Robinson 2-8 0-1 4, H. Mansell 3-8 1-2 8, Warner 5-11 2-2 13, Green 0-1 0-0 0, Griffin 2-2 0-0 6, Johnson 2-6 0-0 5. Totals: 30-66 11-18 77.
Halftime: Rider 38, Siena 34. Three-point goals: Siena 8-18 (Duell 3-4, Ubiles 1-3, Moore 2-5, Hasbrouck 2-4, Fisher 0-2); Rider 6-18 (J. Thompson 0-1, R. Thompson 1-1, Robinson 0-2, H. Mansell 1-3, Warner
1-5, Griffin 2-2, Johnson 1-4). Rebounds:
Siena 34 (Franklin 12); Rider 45 (J. Thompson 24). Assists: Siena 17 (Moore 9); Rider 17 (Robinson 4). Total fouls: Siena 19; Rider 14. Attendance: 1,700.
More from The Daily Gazette: