Ryan Rossiter said a Canisius fan at the Koessler Center was on Rossiter’s case all afternoonon on Sunday, at one point telling Siena’s junior center that he’d “never be in Vogue” magazine.
Maybe not, but perhaps Rossiter could make the cover of “Seventeen,” because that’s how many rebounds he had against Canisius, one short of a career high as the Saints rebounded from their first loss in two months by beating Canisius, 74-57.
Head coach Fran McCaffery eschewed his usual practice of giving the team a light workout on the Saturday between a Friday-Sunday two-game weekend, running the Saints hard at full speed and full contact.
Siena bounced back from that and Friday’s ugly loss at Niagara by outrebounding the Golden Griffins, 43-27.
Rossiter also had 15 points, and frontcourt mate Alex Franklin scored 26 points, one shy of a season high and four short of a career high.
“Anybody who saw the game the other night, we just got destroyed on the glass,” McCaffery said. “And that’s not like us. But things happen, and we have to learn from it and respond.”
“We knew we had a little more size on them, so we tried to push it inside, which also opens up shots for the shooters and gets them open,” Rossiter said. “Clarence [Jackson] played great in the first half, and so did Kyle Griffin.”
The victory put Siena back on the winning track heading into Saturday’s BracketBuster game at nationally ranked Butler.
The Saints improved to 15-1 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 22-5 overall.
Siena had a 15-game winning streak stopped on Friday, which had been the longest in the country.
On Sunday, the Saints regained the form that put them on that roll in the first place.
“After Friday night, you can’t really dwell on a loss, you just have to learn from it,” Franklin said. “It shows a lot about our team, coming out today and getting this win. We wanted to straighten out our defense and bring more intensity. We really had an emphasis on getting on the glass, because that was one of our weaknesses on Friday night.”
The Saints took a 36-26 halftime lead despite the fact that point guard Ronald Moore picked up his second foul with 14:10 left, and spent the rest of the half on the bench.
Jackson, who had a quiet night against Niagara, exploded for all 16 of his points in the first half.
He had a vicious slam in transition, a three-pointer, a two-on-one layup off a pass from Edwin Ubiles and a free throw for eight straight points during a 12-2 run that turned a 19-14 deficit into a 26-21 lead.
At the end of the half, Ubiles dribbled out the clock and had to force a tough baseline jumper that came off the rim.
Rossiter flew in and put the rebound back in all in one motion with two seconds left for a 36-26 lead.
The Saints looked like they were on the verge of putting it away early in the second half, after Franklin made two free throws to give Siena a 46-33 lead with 15:17 left, but Bob Bevilacqua, who finished with 17 points, got hot from three-point range for the Golden Griffins (7-9, 12-15).
He made three straight, followed by a steal and layup by Frank Turner (15 points, nine assists) to bring Canisius within 51-44 with 11:43 left.
“They were spreading us out, we were playing zone, they were driving and kicking,” McCaffery said. “The kid got some good looks, and he made them. At some level, you just have to say, you know what? Hats off to Bevilacqua. The kid played a great game.”
Siena regrouped, and the Golden Griffins, who were without third-leading scorer Greg Logins because of an injured chest muscle, couldn’t keep up.
“I think we ran out of gas,” Canisius head coach Tom Parrotta said. “They have a lot of answers, and we had some answers there in the second half, and I think it showed that we ran out of gas down the stretch.”
Rossiter benefitted from a crazy bounce while Siena was on the fast break, as Griffin’s pass was swatted and redirected at a sharp angle, but right to a streaking Rossiter down the middle of the lane for a finger roll and free throw that made it 56-44.
Rossiter made two more free throws, then scored on a difficult putback by tipping in Griffin’s missed jumper after Rossiter had already reached the top of his jump and was on the way back down.
That made it 60-46. Franklin made a tough, double-clutch hanger, Rossiter finished a fast-break dart of a pass from Moore and Franklin scored on a putback to give Siena a 66-48 lead with 5:34 left.
Rossiter had six offensive rebounds, and he recorded his 11th double-double in the last 12 games.
“He’s a beast,” Jackson said.
Rossiter also has a sense of humor, as he laughed off all the verbal abuse he got this weekend.
“I don’t know what my history is in Buffalo, but I’m pretty hated,” he said with a grin.
Rossiter 6-8 3-3 15, Franklin 11-16 4-7 26, Jackson 7-11 1-2 16, Ubiles 4-11 0-0 8, Moore 1-6 1-2 3, Anosike 1-2 1-1 3, Griffin 1-2 0-0 3, Martens 0-0 0-0 0, Wignot 0-1 0-0 0, Breeden 0-0 0-0 0, Priestley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 31-57 10-15 74.
Frazier 1-5 2-4 4, Vazquez-Simmons 4-6 0-0 8, Turner 7-15 0-1 15, Goldsberry 0-4 0-0 0, Coles 3-16 0-0 8, Bevilacqua 6-12 0-0 17, Gricius 1-3 0-2 3, Johnson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 23-62 2-7 57.
Halftime: Siena 36, Canisius 26. Three-point goals: Siena 2-7 (Jackson 1-3, Ubiles 0-1, Moore 0-2, Griffin 1-1); Canisius 9-25 (Frazier 0-1, Vazquez-Simmons 0-1, Turner 1-2, Goldsberry 0-3, Coles 2-7, Bevilacqua >5-9, Gricius 1-2). Rebounds: Siena 43 (Rossiter 17); Canisius 27 (Vazquez-Simmons 7). Assists: Siena 17 (Ubiles, Griffin 5); Canisius 12 (Turner 9). Total fouls: Siena 9; Canisius 12. Attendance: 1,504.
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