Franklin, Griffin keep Siena rolling

Alex Franklin said he likes the rims at Draddy Gym. He didn't act like it. Kyle Griffin, meanwhile,
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Alex Franklin said he likes the rims at Draddy Gym.

He didn’t act like it.

Kyle Griffin, meanwhile, acted as if the rims didn’t even exist.

Powered by its inside game, and benefitting from a breakout performance by Griffin in the absence of Edwin Ubiles, Siena beat Manhattan, 66-58, for its 11th straight victory to improve to 10-0 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 17-4 overall on Sunday afternoon.

Franklin, who finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, assumed authority of the post right away with an explosive dunk, and Griffin, the little-used La Salle transfer who has been hampered by a sore knee, swished his first four three-pointers in the first half, filling a void left by Ubiles’ shoulder injury and the cold shooting of starter Clarence Jackson.

Franklin’s cohort in the paint, junior center Ryan Rossiter, the seventh-leading rebounder in the nation, had his 11th double-double of the season, with 16 points and 13 rebounds. He had a double of another sort, while standing in the vicinity as the basket was punished by Franklin.

“I actually probably got dunked on twice by him today,” Rossiter said. “I was under the rim. The one offensive rebound I thought I had, and then he came out of nowhere and dunked that one. And then another one in the second half, I was right under waiting for a pass, and he just dunked on my head there.

“He actually said today, ‘I’m trying to dunk everything, my legs feel good.’ And he backed it up.”

Siena won without Ubiles, who was on the bench in street clothes and a sling to protect his left shoulder, which he hurt in Siena’s last game, a win over Loyola on Thursday.

Head coach Fran McCaffery said he isn’t sure if Ubiles will be able to play in the next game, at Saint Peter’s on Thursday night.

If he can’t, the Saints may have found a gem in Griffin, who came into the game having played just five times, totaling 32 minutes and making one of nine shots.

On Sunday, he came in at 13:34 of the first half after Jackson picked up his second foul, and instantly hit back-to-back threes to give the Saints a 14-13 lead. He hit two more back-to-back later in the half for leads of 26-17 and 29-20. The shots came from four different spots around the arc, and accounted for 12 points in building a 35-28 halftime lead.

“I have been going through some struggles with how my knee’s been feeling, but it had been feeling good lately, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to go out there, and Ronald [Moore] kept finding me,” Griffin said. “I was trying to provide a spark off the bench. Eddie’s out, Kyle Downey’s out. We needed somebody to step up. In the pregame speech, coach said this is a great opportunity for guys that haven’t gotten an opportunity, like me and Jon Breeden.”

“What can you say about Kyle Griffin today?” McCaffery said. “We needed every one of those.”

“Man, he hit some big threes for us, and that’s what we’re going to need from here on in,” Rossiter said.

Griffin’s accuracy was especially important in light of the mini-funk Jackson finds himself in.

Going back three games, he has missed his last 15 three-pointers, including an 0-for-7 against Loyola and 0-for-5 on Sunday.

Griffin didn’t score in the second half, but Franklin and Rossiter were too much for the Jaspers (2-8, 7-13) to handle.

Manhattan actually got within 62-58 with 1:23 left, but the Jaspers missed two floaters in their next two possessions and failed to find a shot for Rico Pickett, who finished with 20 points on 9-for-18 shooting, after scoring 26 against Siena last week.

“It’s just the motivation of knowing how good a team Siena has been,” Pickett said. “I feel like you’re supposed to raise your game when you play the best, and that’s what I’ve tried to do these past two games.”

“We needed to get to the basket a bit,” Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen said. “We weren’t shooting well. It was just trying to get to the basket. You want to create something, go in strong . . . you need a better percentage shot, a closer shot. They probably weren’t concerned about fouling, so that puts maybe more emphasis on getting in there.”

Darryl Crawford missed a floater that was rebounded by Griffin, leading to two free throws by Franklin with 20.6 seconds left that gave Siena a 64-58 lead.

Antoine Pearson missed another driving shot that was rebounded by Rossiter, and he made two free throws with 13.7 seconds left to produce the final score.

Rossiter and Franklin were a combined 17-for-23 from the free-throw line.

“With Eddie out, we just try to be more aggressive, and I was trying to make plays for myself and my teammates,” Franklin said. “I liked the rims during shootaround. I was dunking all over there. I just wanted to finish strong.”

“We tried to do a better job guarding the three-point line in the second half, and that seemed to work for us, but then you have an inside guy like Alex Franklin take over and do a real strong job,” Rohrssen said.

Manhattan scored six straight points late in the first half to get within 31-26.

The Saints held for the last shot, and freshman Breeden, who has been suffering from

migraines and played his first minutes in six games, dribbled out the clock and hit a pull-up jumper at the buzzer to give the Saints a

35-28 lead.

Franklin’s 10 rebounds gave him 813 for his career, and moved him past Michael Haddix (807) into third on the school’s all-time list.

Rossiter has double-digit rebounds in 11 of last 12 games.

“They have some good big men, but I think we have some more height and length than they do, and they’re kind of thin up front, so we tried to take advantage of that,” Rossiter said.

Coupled with Fairfield’s loss to Iona, Siena has a three-game lead in the MAAC.

NOTEBOOK

Siena freshman guard Denzel Yard has been suspended from the team for the rest of the season for academic reasons. . . .

The Saints are on the road for three more before returning to the Times Union Center on Feb. 5 for a game against Iona.

SIENA (66)

Rossiter 3-6 10-12 16, Wignot 1-3 1-2 3, Franklin 10-18 7-11 27, Jackson 1-9 0-0 2, Moore 1-4 2-2 4, Anosike 0-1 0-0 0, Griffin 4-6 0-0 12, Martens 0-0 0-2 0, Breeden 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 21-50 20-29 66.

MANHATTAN (58)

Gabriel 0-2 3-4 3, Crawford 1-7 7-9 9, Adams 4-10 1-2 9, Pickett 9-18 1-1 20, Bouli

1-2 0-0 3, Pearson 2-7 0-0 6, Walsh 0-2 0-0 0, Coulibaly 4-7 0-0 8, Jolicoeur 0-2 0-0 0.

Totals: 21-57 12-16 58.

Halftime: Siena 35, Manhattan 28. Three-point goals: Siena 4-14 (Wignot 0-2, Jackson 0-5, Moore 0-1, Griffin 4-6); Manhattan 4-15 (Crawford 0-2, Adams 0-1, Pickett 1-4, Bouli 1-2, Pearson 2-4, Walsh 0-2). Rebounds:

Siena 36 (Rossiter 13, Franklin 10); Manhattan 34 (Coulibaly 7). Assists: Siena 7 (Moore 5); Manhattan 9 (Crawford 4). Total fouls: Siena 14; Manhattan 20. Technical foul: Pearson. Attendance: 1,452.

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