The bandage on Kenny Hasbrouck’s left arm was nice and tight at the beginning of the game.
A piece started flapping off midway through the second half, as the roar in the Times Union Center grew and grew.
Finally, with a few minutes left, Hasbrouck had had enough, ripped it off and flung it to the Siena bench.
The Hulk would have been proud.
The Saints (21-10) trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half, but used a ferocious press in the second half to turn the game around.
It was a long time coming.
Siena had a 12-11 lead in the opening minutes, then didn’t lead again
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until Duell’s shot, which banked high off the glass and somehow rattled through as he was sprawled on his back from a foul by Omari Isreal. Duell got up and screamed a silent scream drowned out by the thunder from the stands.
Siena still needed a blocked shot by Alex Franklin and a missed fadeaway three-point attempt by Marquis Sullivan in the closing seconds to survive, but they’ll play Rider in tonight’s championship game at 7, with a chance to clinch an NCAA tournament berth.
“Coming out [after halftime], I told my staff, ‘If we don’t get Kenny going, we can’t win this game,’ ” Siena head coach Fran McCaffery said. “We went to him the first three plays, and he got himself
going a little bit by playing such phenomenal defense. He was all over the place.
“I just told him that we were
going to go to him. He expected it, and he was ready for the challenge, as he always is.”
“That shows his character and the kind of leader he is for us,”
Duell said. “The kid is unbelievable.”
On Duell’s basket, his first points of the game, point guard Ronald Moore passed to Hasbrouck on the left wing.
Teammate Edwin Ubiles was in position to catch the pass, too, and leapt for it, but at the last second, he pulled his hand down and let it go behind him to Hasbrouck, who found a seam into the paint and crashed into a swarm of Loyola defenders.
The Saints’ all-MAAC first-team junior guard shoveled it to Duell, who fumbled it, but got the ball away before Isreal could get a piece of it.
It went high off the glass, caught both sides of the rim and fell through as the crowd went wild.
“I knew I had a mismatch with Isreal, and Ron was yelling to me the whole possession, ‘Just get the ball, we’re going to get you the ball at the end of the shot clock.’ ” Hasbrouck said. “So I stayed in that spot, I got the ball and drove it into about four people, and they left Josh Duell wide open. Luckily, I found him.”
“I threw it up, fell to the ground, turned around, and it was rolling around, and I was like, ‘Oh, man, please go in,’ ” Duell said.
“I wish I could tell you I
diagrammed something ingenious, but I pretty much pointed to Kenny, and told Ronald to throw him the ball, and I knew he would take it from there,” McCaffery said.
Duell missed the free throw, and Loyola called its last timeout with 12.8 seconds left.
Freshman Brian Rudolph inbounded to Sullivan in the right corner for a difficult fading three attempt over the much taller Duell’s outstretched left arm. It rattled in and out, and was rebounded by Franklin, who was fouled.
“I saw him coming out and didn’t want to give up the three, so I switched out, and hoped somebody had my back,” Duell said. “Kenny always has my back, for some reason. He pump-faked, I stayed down and he jumped into me. I was surprised it even got to the rim.”
“I prayed,” Hasbrouck said. “It was a two-second prayer, I was saying, ‘God, please, no, don’t let it happen.’ ”
“I knew they’d switch, and he still got it off,” Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos said. “Rudolph’s young, it’s muscle memory, he’s used to giving [Sullivan] the ball. Well, they switched, and I thought Isreal and Gerald [Brown] were wide open, and we could’ve got a layup and scored, but he went for the win.”
It wasn’t over, though. Franklin missed both free throws, and
Rudolph dribbled the length of the floor for a layup, but Franklin came flying down the lane to greet him and swat the shot away with three seconds left.
The best the Greyhounds could do on the final play was a lob to Isreal that he volleyballed harmlessly away.
“Oh, man, I missed those two big free throws, and I knew I had to make it up somewhere, so I just hustled back,” Franklin said. “I didn’t want to give up a layup.”
With only Franklin and Moore generating any offense in the first half, the Saints fell behind, 38-21, with 3:39 left.
Franklin, who scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half, battled down low for back-to-back baskets to pull Siena within 38-28 at the half.
The Greyhounds (19-14) made five threes, including one by
Rudolph that banked in to make it 38-21, and scored twice as the shot clock expired.
“There’s a level of frustration when they bank in a three from 24 feet with a half-second on the shot clock,” McCaffery said. “It’s those kind of plays that make you wonder. The thing was, though, we were never down by a sum we couldn’t overcome, and there was still a lot of time left. I know that I never quit believing, and neither did our team.”
Isreal 4-7 4-5 12, Tuck 5-9 1-4 13, Brown 5-15 3-3 13, Harvey 1-6 2-2 5, Rudolph 2-7 1-2 6, Lewis 0-1 0-0 0, Sullivan 5-9 0-0 14, Fofana 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-54 11-16 63.
Duell 1-4 0-1 2, Franklin 8-13 6-11 22, Ubiles 6-12 2-4 14, Moore 4-10 1-2 10, Hasbrouck 7-17 0-2 17, De La Rosa 0-0 0-0 0, Fisher 0-2 0-0 0, Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Rossiter 0-1 0-0 0, Magee 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-60 9-20 65.
Halftime: Loyola 38, Siena 28. Three-point goals: Loyola 8-22 (Isreal 0-1, Tuck 2-2, Brown 0-6, Harvey 1-5, Rudolph 1-1, Sullivan 4-7); Siena 4-16 (Duell 0-3, Ubiles 0-2, Moore 1-2, Hasbrouck 3-6, Fisher 0-2, Jackson 0-1). Rebounds: Loyola 40 (Isreal 18); Siena 33 (Franklin 12). Assists: Loyola 9 (Isreal, Brown, Rudolph 3); Siena 13 (Moore 5). Total fouls: Loyola 20; Siena 15.
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