No miracle for Saints this time

Lewis Jackson’s ugly free throw attempt landed on the back iron and stopped dead as if it was deflat

Lewis Jackson’s ugly free throw attempt landed on the back iron and stopped dead as if it was deflated.

Instead, it dropped through, and Purdue squeezed the air out of Siena’s season, 72-64, in the first round of the NCAA tourn­ament South Regional Friday at the Spokane Arena.

The 13th-seeded Saints (27-7) trailed by 15 with 5:47 left and pulled within 66-63 before the No. 4 Boilermakers (28-5) finally silenced Siena’s last gasps by making five of five free throws in the final 49.3 seconds.

None were bigger than two by the point guard Jackson, who came into the game having made just two of six all season, to give Purdue a 68-63 lead.

The 6-foot-10 JaJuan Johnson, who gave Siena fits inside, clinched the win by making two from the line to produce the final score with 28.6 seconds left, preventing Siena from winning its third first-round game in the last three years.

The Boilermakers will play fifth-seeded Texas 69-53 winner over Utah State, in the second round on Sunday. By then, the Saints’ charter plane will have brought them home following one of the best seasons in program history.

“We’ve been down in multiple games and came back, we just had to keep chipping away, chipping at it, point by point, and keep our composure, which we did a great job of,” Siena senior point guard Ronald Moore said. “It’s going to stick with me for awhile. I love playing college basketball, I love playing for Siena, and just to think that it’s all over, it’s something I’ll be thinking about for a long time.”

“They came out more aggressive than we did to start the second half,” senior swing man Edwin Ubiles said. “To our credit, we were able to fight back and get in the game. For a minute there, we buckled down and really started to play basketball.

“They never rattled, they never got nervous. They’ve probably been in that situation plenty of times. It’s a very good team, and good teams seal off games like that.”

The Saints played without their most dangerous three-point shooter, junior Clarence Jackson, who was in uniform but did not play because he’s still recovering from a left ankle sprain he suffered in practice last Saturday.

Siena led at halftime, 32-29, but was outscored, 13-0, in the first 2:57 of the second half, and Purdue used a 27-9 run to take a 56-41 lead with 12:18 left.

The Saints got back to within 66-63 on a layin by junior center Ryan Rossiter, who motored down the middle of the lane and caught a pass from Moore on the baseline.

Purdue head coach Matt Painter called timeout, and Siena head coach Fran McCaffery, pumping both fists and screaming “Let’s go” at his players, led a charge off the bench.

Siena never got closer.

Jackson was fouled by Moore, and after his first free throw died on the back iron, but plopped through, he swished the second one to make it 68-63.

“It was ugly, but no matter how it drops, it drops,” Jackson said. “It’s March Madness time, and crazy things happen.”

Moore missed a pullup jumper, and Purdue’s Chris Kramer made two free throws with 33.9 seconds left to give the Boilermakers a 70-63 lead.

Ubiles made the first of two from the line, then Johnson answered with two free throws.

Siena had four shots during a wild, scrambling final half-minute, including three threes, but couldn’t get anything to fall.

“We kept coming,” McCaffery said. “We managed the clock well, drove the ball, got into the bonus. We weren’t shooting the ball particularly well. We started driving the ball, drawing the defense, and the press really got them sideways.”

Things didn’t look good for Siena with 9:18 left, when the Boilermakers took a 59-45 lead and got Rossiter to commit his third foul.

The Saints got the deficit under 10 when Moore hit a pullup to bring the Saints within 60-51 with 7:25 left.

Purdue extended it back to 15, 66-51, with 5:47 left on a long jumper by E’Twuaun Moore.

Ubiles took over for the next two minutes, making a jumper, two free throws and a fadeaway to make it 66-57, and Rossiter scored inside.

Ronald Moore made it 66-61 by hitting both ends of a one-and-one with 1:24 left, and after ackson missed the front end, rebounded by Rossiter, Moore drove to the baseline and kicked it back out to Rossiter in the lane for an easy layup.

The Saints had to play catchup because the Boilermakers, who picked up their defense in the second half, got hot from outside in the first few minutes, making their first four three-point attempts, including three by Keaton Grant.

His third one gave Purdue a 45-35 lead, and he followed with a breakaway layup. E’Twaun Moore set up Johnson, who scored 23 points, for a dunk, and just like that, Siena was down, 49-35.

“We were able to dictate the game with our play at both ends of the floor,” Painter said.

“We just got run out of the gym,” said sophomore Kyle Downey, who started for Clarence Jackson and played 23 minutes. “Our intensity was just not there in the second half. We got in a hole, but showed a lot of fight coming back, cut it to three with a minute left. We just couldn’t get them.

“They just pushed us out, a couple of fouls didn’t go our way, and they kept riding us. What are you going to do? When we got it under 10, that was a good sign. We couldn’t get the whole thing back.”

“A lot of things happened,” McCaffery said. “Some of it out of our control. Some of it in our control. We did not take care of the ball like we should have in that stretch.”

“That’s probably the toughest team we’ve faced all year,” Ronald Moore said. “Just the little nudges and bumps can get you off balance and lose control of the ball and have you turn it over and have uncharacteristic plays. We knew it was going to be like that coming into the game. We got a little sideways in the second half, and couldn’t stop it quick enough.”

SIENA (64)

Rossiter 5-10 0-0 10, Franklin 4-12 2-4 10, Downey 2-10 0-0 6, Ubiles 6-16 5-6 18, R. Moore 5-16 4-4 14, Anosike 0-0 2-2 2, Griffin 0-1 0-0 0, Wignot 1-5 2-2 4. Totals: 23-70 15-18 64.


Johnson 8-16 7-11 23, Kramer 4-5 2-3 10, Grant 4-9 0-0 11, Jackson 3-7 2-3 8, E. Moore 5-15 2-2 12, Barlow 1-3 0-0 2, Byrd 0-1 0-0 0, Smith 2-2 0-0 6, Hart 0-0 0-0 0, Bade 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 27-59 13-19 72.

Halftime: Siena 32, Purdue 29. Three-point goals: Siena 3-12 (Downey 2-4, Ubiles 1-2, R. Moore 0-4, Griffin 0-1, Wignot 0-1); Purdue 5-17 (Kramer 0-1, Grant 3-7, Jackson 0-2, E. Moore 0-4, Byrd 0-1, Smith 2-2). Rebounds: Siena 45 (Rossiter 13, Franklin 12); Purdue 38 (Johnson 15). Assists: Siena 9 (R. Moore 5); Purdue 21 (Jackson 9).

Total fouls: Siena 16; Purdue 14. Attendance: 10,895.

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