Siena vs. Saint Joseph’s: Saints will need depth vs. Hawks

A deep roster can be a luxury; for Siena, now it’s a necessity.

The Saints face the prospect

PHOTOGRAPHER:

A deep roster can be a luxury; for Siena, now it’s a necessity.

The Saints face the prospect of playing at Saint Joseph’s today without second-leading scorer Clarence Jackson as well as backup guard Kyle Griffin, who hurt his shoulder for the second time this year against St. Bonaventure on Tuesday night.

That said, the Saints (4-7) got plenty of production against the Bonnies from players not named Ryan Rossiter.

Three players, all guards, had career single-game highs in scoring, and junior small forward Owen Wignot missed by one point.

Junior Kyle Downey, starting for Jackson, scored 21, and freshman point guard Rakeem Brookins (18) and sophomore Jon Breeden (15), who took over at the point after Brookins was sidelined with leg cramps, had big nights.

With St. Bonaventure committed to keeping leading scorer and rebounder Rossiter quiet, those three and Wignot were a combined

26-for-49 (53.1 percent) from the field. Downey, Brookins and Breeden combined to make 10 of 17 three-pointers (58.8 percent).

The Saints likely will rely on a variety of sources for offense again at 4 this afternoon at the Hagan Arena in Philadelphia, as neither

Jackson nor Griffin sounded

optimistic about playing against the Hawks (4-8).

Despite the 82-79 loss to the Bonnies, in which Siena’s zone defense was hurt by strong three-point shooting, the Saints were encouraged and believe they’re continuing to make progress as they get ready for the bulk of their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference schedule.

“All season, we’ve been talking about our depth, and that showed today,” Rossiter said after the St. Bonaventure game. “Everyone that got in did something positive. It was one of our better team games of the season.”

“Not too many people realize that we can go eight, nine, 10 deep, no problem, and not really have a big dropoff,” Downey said. “It shows a lot of people can score, as well.”

Siena was fortunate to have Downey, slated to be the first guard off the bench when the season started, regain his form just in time to cover for Jackson, who hurt his ankle during practice last Monday.

Downey missed the first six games of the season with a knee injury.

Brookins has shown flashes of brilliance, especially at the end of games, but he was red-hot from the start on Tuesday, and appeared to be on the way to a huge night

before hitting the deck on a drive with 11:16 left.

Both his calves cramped up, and his thigh and groin also started to seize up when he tried to come back into the game a few minutes later.

Siena’s offense kept chugging along seamlessly when Brookins came out the first time.

He hit a three to give the Saints a 50-46 lead, then missed the drive and came out.

Breeden replaced him, and hit a long three at the end of the shot clock to make it 53-46.

“I feel like we’re playing good. We’re making progress every game,” Brookins said.

Siena and Saint Joseph’s have played three common opponents already this season, Fairfield,

Princeton and Minnesota.

The Hawks defeated Fairfield, 60-51, in November, which should ring a bell with the Saints, since the Stags have inflicted the worst loss on Siena this season, 72-55.

Saint Joseph’s just stopped a six-game losing streak by beating Holy Cross, 65-54.

The Hawks have been starting three freshmen, sophomore Carl Jones and senior Idris Hilliard.

Jones, listed at a wispy 5-foot-10, 150 pounds, is the Hawks’ leading scorer (18.0 ppg) and had 29 against Minnesota.

Siena has a strong Philadelphia connection, as its roster has 10 players who live within a two-hour drive of the city, and five are from Pennsylvania.

In its 70th season of basketball and 35th at Division I, Siena needs one more win to reach 1,000 as a program.

Categories: College Sports

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