Josh Duell looked green on the bench.
Fortunately for Siena, Steven Priestley and Kyle Downey did not look green on the court.
Duell and starting center Ryan Rossiter were the latest Saints to catch the stomach bug that has been working its way through the team, so the little-used Priestley, a sophomore forward, got the start against Saint Peter’s on Sunday and performed well, complemented by some strong play by the freshman Downey in a 65-52 victory at the Times Union Center.
Rossiter was too sick to even make it to the building, and Duell had an IV before the game, and spent the game huddled under his warmup jacket.
Priestley, meanwhile, who averages the fewest minutes on the team except for walk-on Conner Fenlon, scored the first basket of the game and grabbed eight rebounds in 22 minutes, and Downey, a guard from Fairport, had 11 points and three rebounds in 21 minutes.
Priestley didn’t have any assists, but gets credit for one pass of significance: he gave the bug to his roommate, Rossiter.
“I woke up to him yakking at 4 o’clock in the morning,” Priestley said with a laugh. “I said, ‘You got it?’ He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I went back to sleep.
“I just try to make my presence felt on the floor somehow, in a positive way, of course, whether it’s getting a rebound or a stop or making an extra slide so they can’t penetrate. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. I’ve been practicing with the green team the past two days, so I had an idea I was going to be playing, but I didn’t know I was going to start until just before the game.”
Siena improved to 4-0 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 10-4 overall. The Saints never really let the Peacocks (1-3, 4-10) in the game, using a 16-2 run to take a 29-13 lead with 5:37 left in the first half.
The only players on the roster who still haven’t gotten sick are senior co-captain Kenny Hasbrouck, point guard Ronald Moore, junior forward Edwin Ubiles and Downey.
Hasbrouck and Alex Franklin each scored 13 points, and Franklin had nine rebounds.
“My roommate [Erik Harris] got it, and I didn’t,” Hasbrouck said. “I’m like Will Smith, right now, I’m ‘Legend,’ right now.
“He [Priestley] played great. He came in, he really didn’t get too much time before this game, and he filled his role. Coach told him he had to rebound and play ‘D,’ and that’s what he did. I’m real happy for him.”
“Every day in practice, they go against four of the best players in our league, so they’re always ready,” Duell said. “They’re just waiting for an opportunity, and tonight, Steve played just great.”
“I’m really pleased for Steven Priestley,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “I thought giving us eight rebounds was very important, and a little bit of a physical post presence. And then I thought Downey was very good.”
Priestley had a total of 13 minutes in five appearances this season before the Saint Peter’s game.
He got an offensive rebound, and put it back in for the first points of the game.
During the 16-2 run, Clarence Jackson scored seven points, Siena was 5-for-5 from the free-throw line, and Downey scored back-to-back baskets, on a steal and layup, and a quick basket that answered the Peacocks’ only points during that stretch.
Downey missed two three-pointers, but was 5-for-10 from the field, mostly by driving to the basket.
He made a difficult finger roll while being fouled in traffic and hit the free throw for a 48-34 lead at 12:28 of the second half, then gave Siena a 65-48 lead by coming off a hard pick by Priestley.
“Today, I was just trying to come off the bench and contribute however I could, either defensively or rebounding or scoring,” Downey said. “Everyone set me up very well. Ron, off the break, got me the ball in good spots, and I just kind of drove a little bit and pulled up a few times.”
Besides Rossiter and Duell, who McCaffery said should be well enough to make the 6 a.m. flight to Kansas this morning for Tuesday’s game against the Jayhawks, Siena also didn’t use Harris, who has gotten over the bug, but hurt his knee in practice on Saturday.
Also, Ubiles missed some minutes in the first half while being treated for a bloody nose.
“We missed a golden opportunity,” Saint Peter’s head coach John Dunne said. “We didn’t come out with enough energy to play against the No. 1 presesason team in our league that was without a couple key players, Duell and Rossiter. And Edwin Ubiles didn’t play major minutes. We just missed an opportunity.
“Moore, as usual, did a good job hitting the outlets deep and hitting over the top, so they got some open looks early.”
“Our energy level was good, our concentration to the gameplan was pretty good,” McCaffery said. “We moved the ball, we ran the floor, we didn’t settle for jump shots in the second half.
“He’s [Priestley] been getting closer. It’s a longer process for some players when they come in, to get to where they can contribute like that. He’s stayed after it. He didn’t give up on himself. He keeps working, he keeps asking questions. He’s been one of our best rebounders in practice, and he shows that he can do it in a game.”
SAINT PETER’S (52)
Traore 2-5 0-0 4, Bacon 5-8 3-5 13, Gooding 6-11 2-4 14, Jenkins 3-12 0-0 9, Leon
4-15 0-0 8, Hall 0-1 0-0 0, Mumford 0-0 0-0 0, Costner 0-0 0-0 0, Hill 2-3 0-0 4. Totals: 22-55 5-9 52.
Franklin 3-8 7-11 13, Priestley 2-3 0-1 4, Ubiles 4-9 0-0 8, Moore 3-7 0-0 6, Hasbrouck 6-11 0-2 13, Fenlon 0-0 0-0 0, Downey 5-10
1-3 11, Jackson 3-9 2-2 10, Wignot 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 26-58 10-19 65.
Halftime: Siena 33, Saint Peter’s 19. Three-point goals: Saint Peter’s 3-11 (Gooding 0-1, Jenkins 3-5, Leon 0-4, Hall 0-1); Siena 3-13 (Ubiles 0-1, Moore 0-1, Hasbrouck 1-3, Downey 0-2, Jackson 2-6). Rebounds: Saint Peter’s 36 (Traore 9); Siena 37 (Franklin 9). Assists: Saint Peter’s 11 (Leon, Hall 3);
Siena 12 (Moore 6). Total fouls: Saint
Peter’s 17; Siena 13. Attendance: 5,583.
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