For a road game, Edwin Ubiles never felt so at home.
Siena’s senior small forward from Poughkeepsie, who had missed three of the last four games with an injury and was uncertain to play on Saturday, stepped on the court early in the first half and found his comfort zone.
Ubiles scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half, and Siena defeated Marist, 79-60, before a packed house at the McCann Center.
The Saints won their 13th straight game, the longest winning streak in the country, and improved to 13-0 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 19-4 overall. Alex Franklin scored 22 points for Siena, Ryan Rossiter had 16 points and 10 rebounds and point guard Ronald Moore, who leads the nation in per-game assists, had 11 more.
It was Ubiles who pulled it all together, though, simply by getting out there again.
He had been nursing a sore left, non-shooting shoulder, was not in uniform for the Saints’ last two games and was questionable to play against the Red Foxes.
He took the full warmups, and came in for Owen Wignot with 13:44 left in the first half and Siena leading, 16-12.
Ubiles scored nine straight points to help extend the lead to 34-22. He also made a buzzer-beater just before halftime, and his finger roll in the second half put the Saints ahead, 58-45, as Siena gradually put the game away.
“It was fun and exciting to be back out there and compete again, especially coming back here to my hometown,” Ubiles said. “I had a lot of people here. I was feeling kind of good before the game, and told coach I was going to give it a go. It [shoulder] didn’t bother me much, and I wasn’t thinking about it much, either.”
“Sometimes, you take somebody like him for granted, and I never do,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “With him, obviously he gave us a lot of production, in terms of points, when I first put him in, but he affects the game in so many different ways. He gives us another handler, another rebounder, another defender. So he’s such a calming influence out there.”
That was never more evident than the final play of the first half, when the shot clock was off and Siena played for the last shot.
Rossiter was supposed to set a pick to give Ubiles some room to operate, but the play broke down, leaving Ubiles to figure it out for himself.
From a few feet inside the top of the three-point arc, he snapped off two crossover dribbles and flicked a long jumper over a Marist defender that swished at the buzzer for a 39-30 lead.
“Coach kind of called a play for Ron to give me the ball,” Ubiles said. “The play was designed for Ryan to come up and set a ball screen. I just knew we had to get up a shot, I recognized the mismatch and was able to get a shot off and make it.”
“We got the ball in his hands; that didn’t take a lot of intelligence,” McCaffery said with a chuckle. “He made a great play. We didn’t even have to set a screen for him. We just gave him space. He can use a screen, but he really doesn’t need one most of the time because he’s going to shoot it over you. He just made an Edwin Ubiles play.”
“The offense, when we get in an iso situation, he’s able to make a big shot,” Rossiter said. “Eddie’s Eddie, you know how he is. He’s a great player, and any time you have somebody like that on the court, it’s beneficial.”
The roster-depleted Red Foxes (1-11, 1-21), who drew a typically spirited crowd for what is an intense rivalry game, clawed their way back within 41-37 in the early stages of the second half.
Siena regained a comfortable cushion with a 10-0 run that included two three-pointers by Clarence Jackson, who had already stopped a string of 19 straight missed threes by making his first shot of the game.
He has been playing with his left wrist taped after taking a hard fall against Manhattan on Jan. 18, and he said the soreness has been affecting his ability to catch passes cleanly and get his shot off smoothly.
He finished with 11 points and made three of six threes.
“After the Manhattan fall, I was a little sideways,” he said. “It felt like I was shooting with one hand.
“The wrist was bothering me for a little bit, but I was feeling better today and getting good shots up during warmups. I went out and shot with confidence. That’s what you have to do, you can’t shy away from your shot.”
“He hit the big three early, which was good,” McCaffery said. “I didn’t think he played particularly well the rest of the first half. But then he hit two big threes in the second half, and it was good to see those. He needed that. He mixed his offense up a little bit, so I was very happy with Clarence today.”
Siena used a distinct size advantage to hurt Marist inside.
Franklin was 8-for-9 from the field, including a hard dunk to give Siena a 70-49 lead and suck the life out of the Marist crowd, and Rossiter was 6-for-6.
Ubiles was 7-for-11, mostly from the outside. “It was great having him back out here,” Jackson said. “He’s a key piece to this team. It’s a big spark to see him back out there. We weren’t sure how ready he’d be, but he looked great tonight. He still looked like the same old Eddie.”
“There are a number of player of the year candidates, but I think he’s the best player in the league,” McCaffery said. “As long as he can stay healthy, I think he would have a good chance to win that award.”
Rossiter 6-6 4-5 16, Wignot 0-1 1-2 1, Franklin 8-9 6-8 22, Jackson 3-6 2-4 11, Moore 1-7 0-0 2, Ubiles 7-11 0-0 15, Anosike 2-2 1-3 5, Griffin 1-4 0-0 3, Martens 0-1 0-0 0, Breeden 1-1 2-2 4, Priestley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 29-48 16-24 79.
Johnson 3-10 4-4 10, Bauer 8-13 2-2 18, Price 2-8 2-2 8, Kaba 7-11 1-2 17, Rusin 2-7 1-2 5, Carter 1-1 0-0 2, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Parris 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-50 10-12 60.
Halftime: Siena 39, Marist 30. Three-point goals: Siena 5-13 (Griffin 1-1, Jackson 3-6, Wignot 0-1, Martens 0-1, Ubiles 1-4); Marist 4-11 (Price 2-4, Kaba 2-4, Rusin 0-3). Rebounds: Siena 30 (Rossiter 10); Marist 21 (Kaba 5). Assists: Siena 16 (Moore 11); Marist 14 (Price 7). Total fouls: Siena 14; Marist 17. Fouled out: Johnson. Technical foul: Marist bench. Attendance: NA.
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: College Sports