Edwin Ubiles was late for practice, so he didn’t start. Ronald Moore was considered the least likely player to make an impact, but was deadly with his jumpers and his passes.
The University at Albany players wished neither Siena standouts had played at all in this annual rivalry between the Capital Region’s two Division I basketball programs.
Ubiles, a 6-foot-6 junior swingman, poured in 23 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Moore, a 6-0 junior guard, chipped in with 17 points and seven assists as Siena edged the Great Danes, 71-64, Saturday night before a bustling crowd of 13,251 at Times Union Center.
It was the fourth straight victory for Siena in the series, leaving the Saints with a 30-18 lead, including seven wins in the last eight meetings.
“I told him maybe he should come late next week,” quipped Siena head coach Fran McCaffery about why Ubiles didn’t start the game. “He gave us a spark. He did a good job on the glass, and he
really gave us a big-time lift in traffic. Of course, Edwin also hit arguably the biggest shot of the game. That three-pointer [with 2:03 left] iced it for us.”
“I tried to give the team a lift when I came in,” said Ubiles. “I was just trying to provide us a spark off the bench. It was a pretty good night for me.”
“How do you not guard Edwin Ubiles? He’s the best player in the MAAC,” said Albany head coach Will Brown.
McCaffery was even more impressed with the play of his point guard, who was probably the team’s fifth option offensively, yet came up big, time after time, with his three-point shooting and pin-point passes, including several that led to dunks for Ubiles.
“I thought the key for us tonight was the play of Ronald Moore,” said McCaffery. “He made a few uncharacteristic turnovers, but he controlled the game for us. He handled the press. He engineered the win for us.”
Kenny Hasbrouck scored only five points for the 4-3 Saints, but it didn’t matter. Siena still shot 50 percent from the floor (26-for-52) and forced 17 Albany turnovers.
“That’s the problem though,” said Brown. “You shut down Hasbrouck, and Ubiles steps up and drops 23. Hasbrouck’s really good. With
Siena, you kind of have to pick your poison. Our goal heading into the game, and I don’t have a problem saying it because he kicked our butt, was to make Ronald Moore beat us. The son of a gun did. That’s what you have to do against them, pick and choose.”
Not surprisingly, Siena’s press gradually started to create havoc for the Great Danes. The Saints rallied from a 9-7 deficit with nine straight points, including a pair of baskets from Ubiles. The St. Thomas More graduate missed a breakaway dunk shot with 9:43 left, but he still finished with 14 first-half points as the Saints rolled out to a 39-29 advantage at the intermission.
Despite playing without starter Ryan Rossiter, who hit his head in the first half and was not cleared to return to the court, the Saints began to pull away in the second half.
Ubiles turned an alley-oop pass from Moore into a slam dunk with 11:37 left to give Siena a 53-39 lead.
Hasbrouck became the seventh player in Siena history to score 1,500 points when he sank a pair of free throws with 8:29 remaining to put Siena on top, 57-46.
But the Great Danes made a run as Billy Allen dropped a pair of three-pointers and Will Harris converted an offensive rebound into a basket to slice the Albany deficit to 60-55 with 4:40 to go.
But Moore turned a steal into a breakaway layup, and Ubiles buried a three with 2:04 left to seal the win for the Saints. The rest of the game was a battle at the free-throw line and a battle of attrition for the Danes, who lost both Tim Ambrose and Brian Connelly to foul trouble.
“That was a good team we beat. I have a lot of respect for that team,” said McCaffery of the Great Danes. “They are physical and quick, they are deep, and they don’t panic. They have a lot of depth, and they challenged us at every position.
“It was a phenomenal crowd. It was great to see how basketball fans in the Capital District support both programs.”
Brown said this Danes played well, and although he gave Siena a lot of credit for the win, he fell short of saying there was still a big gap between the strength of each program.
“They’re good. They’re more talented then we are,” said Brown. “But I like our depth. They’ve got [Alex] Franklin, Ubiles and Hasbrouck, who are three first-team All-MAAC players. And Ronald Moore has the best job in the world. He gets to pass the ball to all the other guys. Plus, he made some shots against us. He knocked them down.”
But Brown said the Danes had their moments.
“We had some guys in awe of the atmosphere in the first half, but in the second half, we did a good job. We just didn’t shoot straight,” he said of the Danes, who connected on only 37.7 percent of their shots. “We missed open shots, and Siena took it to us. We had our chances down the stretch, but we got impatient.”
“They played us tough. They played very good defense against us,” said Albany’s Harris. “In my heart, I thought we’d make it all the way back, but we were really cold from the floor tonight.”
Ambrose led the 5-3 Danes with 15 points and nine rebounds. Anthony Raffa (13), Harris (12) and Connelly (12) also scored in double figures. Albany, which saw its five-game winning streak snapped, travels to Lehigh Monday. Siena hosts Marist Tuesday night.
Harris 5-13 2-6 12, Connelly 5-9 2-4 12, Gifford 0-0 0-0 0, Raffa 5-13, 3-3 13, Ambrose 6-18 2-2 15, Allen 2-3 0-0 6, Hastings 1-3 0-0 2, McRae 1-5 0-0 2, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Barraza 1-4 0-0 2, Covington 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-69 9-15 6.
Rossiter 0-1 1-2 1, Franklin 4-8 1-7 9, Jackson 2-5 1-2 7, Moore 6-11 3-4 17, Hasbrouck 1-8 3-5 5, Downey 0-1 0-0 0, Duell 0-0 0-0 0, Ubiles 9-14 4-5 23, Wignot 2-2 0-0 5, Harris 2-2 0-0 4. Totals: 26-52 13-25 71.
Halftime: Siena 39-29. Three-point goals: Albany 3-15 (Harris 0-3, Raffa 0-2, Mbrose 1-4, Allen 2-3, Barraza 0-3); Siena 6-17 (Jackson 2-4, Moore 2-4, Hasbrouck 0-5, Downey 0-1, Ubiles 1-2, Wignot 1-1). Rebounds: Albany 48 (Ambrose 9); Siena 30 (Franklin 8). Assists: Albany 12 (Johnson 5), Siena 17 (Moore 7). Personal fouls: Albany 23, Siena 16. Fouled out: Ambrose, Connelly. Officials: Kevin Ferguson, Kenneth Turner, Gary Tracy. Attandance: 13,251.
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: College Sports