Jackson’s versatility a pleasant surprise for Saints

It wasn’t a surprise that Siena sophomore guard Clarence Jackson had a breakout scoring game at Sain

It wasn’t a surprise that Siena sophomore guard Clarence Jackson had a breakout scoring game at Saint Joseph’s on Sunday.

The interesting development for the Saints was that his offense mostly came from inside the three-point stripe, not outside it.

Jackson took seven three-pointers, but made just two, and still ripped the Hawks for 28 points in 27 minutes in Siena’s 75-74 victory at the Palestra, by far the biggest win of the season for Siena (7-4) heading into tonight’s game at Holy Cross (4-8) at 7.

Tabbed to fill the role of three-point specialist off the benchafter the graduation of Tay Fisher, Jackson has much more to his game than just deep jump-shooting, and he showed that on Sunday, repeatedly getting to the rim and finishing some plays in transition.

He had a career high by halftime, with 16 points, and scored two big baskets back-to-back late in the game to tie it at 68-68, after Siena had trailed by 18 with 15:05 to play.

“Clarence has been real close,” Siena head coach Fran McCaffery said. “I thought the Pitt game was a great example of what he’scapable of doing. As I told him after the game [Sunday], the beauty of Clarence’s game was how he diversified what he did on offense.”

Jackson was one of the bright spots for Siena in a 79-66 loss at No. 3 Pitt two weeks ago. He scored 12 points and treated the ESPN2audience to some spectacular plays around the rim, including a baseline dunk out of traffic.

He was able to snake his way along the baseline against Saint Joseph’s, too, and kept attacking the rim from all angles. Saint Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli criticized his team for not rotating to Jackson quickly enough, and he took advantage of it, but not by chucking threes.

“They kept flying out at me, and I would just go baseline or drive to the middle and was able to get good drives,” Jackson said.

The game was especially gratifying for him because he had 30 to 40 personal fans in the crowd, half of which were family members from nearby Marlton, N.J.

The primary component of the Saints’ halfcourt offense is to penetrate to score and draw fouls, like when Edwin Ubiles torched Holy Cross last year for 29 points on11-for-13 shooting.

Usually, the ones doing much of that are Ubiles and Kenny Hasbrouck, and although Ubiles has been steady all season, Hasbrouck continues to be in a shooting slump. He was 1-for-7 against Saint Joe’s for two points in 28 minutes.

You would expect Jackson’s emergence as a dangerous scorer to divert some of the attention away from Hasbrouck, who has been the target of opposing defenses all season.

“Clarence is obviously a great shooter, but when you go off the dribble like that and finish in trans­ition, keep moving without the ball and finish plays around the basket, then pop out and hit the three, it makes you real difficult to cover,” McCaffery said. “It takes a lot of pressure off everybody else, too.”

Besides Jackson’s performance and the huge comeback, there was a lot for the Saints to like about the Saint Joe’s win. Siena outrebounded the Hawks by eight and made 14 of 16 free throws, including two by 6-foot-9 sophomore center Ryan Rossiter to win the game with 2.4 seconds left.

The Saints don’t get much of a breather during the holiday break. They’ll play Fairfield Thursday afternoon, host Saint Peter’s Sunday and travel to Kansas for a game next Tuesday.

Holy Cross has won two of their last four after a six-game losing streak, including a 97-88 win over San Francisco at home on Saturday in which the teams combined for 57 fouls.

The Crusaders’ leading scorer is freshman guard R.J. Evans, who has started the last five games, and had 26 points and 10 rebounds against USF.

Categories: College Sports


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