Hawks stymie cold-shooting Saints, 58-48

Rakeem Brookins and the Siena Saints played a complete game this week. Unfortunately for Siena, the
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Rakeem Brookins and the Siena Saints played a complete game this week.

Unfortunately for Siena, the two pieces making up that game occurred on different days.

That left the Saints (4-8) with their second straight loss on the road, 58-48, to Saint Joseph’s (5-8) at the Hagan Arena on Friday.

After missing much of the second half against St. Bonaventure on Tuesday because of leg cramps, Siena’s freshman point guard missed almost all of the first half against Saint Joe’s because of foul trouble, and still managed to lead Siena with 12 points.

Like the Bonnies, the Hawks threw immediate double teams at Ryan Rossiter, forcing the Saints to rely on outside shooting, but except for Brookins’ 2-for-2, Siena was 0-for-15 from three-point range. Facing the same defensive strategy against St. Bonaventure, the Saints were 11-for-23.

“It was the same thing; every time I caught it, I had two guys on me,” said Rossiter, who had 10 points and 15 rebounds.

“It’s funny . . . Bonaventure, I’d say we lost because of defense; this game, we lost because we weren’t hitting shots.”

“I thought the offense was good, we just couldn’t make a shot,” head coach Mitch Buonaguro said, despite the fact that Siena was held under 50 points. “And I was happy with the shots. I thought we were open.”

Siena played without senior shooting guard Clarence Jackson (ankle injury) for the third straight game and without backup guard Kyle Griffin (shoulder) for the second straight game.

Saint Joe’s Carl Jones won the matchup of freshman point guards, scoring 17 points, including four of four free throws in the final 31.3 seconds to thwart any idea of a Siena comeback.

Brookins, who had the best game of his young career against the Bonnies, despite missing most of the final 11 minutes, picked up his second foul just 2:35 into the game on Friday, while trying to draw a charge on Jones in transition.

Joe Breeden played the rest of the half, as Saint Joe’s took a 27-23 lead.

“At that point, Jon Breeden has been playing well, and I have confidence in him,” Buonaguro said. “I didn’t want [Brookins] to get a third foul. He’s a young player, and I needed him in the second half. The way we were playing, it was going to be a close game. I gambled, and we were only down four.”

“It was a little frustrating,” said Brookins, a Philadelphia native who had family and friends in the crowd of 3,867. “I figured I was going to be on the bench for the rest of the first half. Jon came in and played well.”

The Brookins-Jones duel heated up right away in the second half.

After Jones hit a three from the right corner and drove down the lane on Brookins to give the Hawks a 33-27 lead, Brookins came right back with a basket, then nailed a three from the left corner on a play coming out of a timeout.

Kyle Downey got the roll on a driving bank shot to give the Saints their only lead of the second half, 34-33, with 14:37 left.

Saint Joe’s answered with a 10-2 run that included a pullup by Langston Galloway that was set up by Jones’ block of Brookins’ driving shot.

Justin Crosgile made a three, Rossiter answered with a spinning hook, but Galloway finished a three-point play and Jones scored on another drive on Brookins for a 43-36 Hawks’ lead, as Buonaguro called a timeout with 10:55 left.

Brookins made a three to cut it to 43-41, but that was as close as it got the rest of the way.

“I was just trying to play with poise,” Brookins said. “I knew I wasn’t going to come in and just jack the ball or whatever. I got my teammates involved and made plays.”

It wasn’t enough, as Saint Joe’s limited Rossiter to 5-for-10 from the field, and got him to turn it over three times.

Downey, Breeden and Owen Wignot were a combined 7-for-15 from three-point range against the Bonnies; they were 0-for-11 against the Hawks.

“Some of the guards were missing jump shots they normally make, the bigs weren’t finishing as they usually do, so it’s a weird game to lose,” Rossiter said.

“We went over that for two days,” Buonaguro said, referring to the possibility of seeing early double teams on Rossiter again. “The kids were prepared for it. It’s a matter of making shots. They took away Rossiter and gambled on us not making shots. And we didn’t make them.”

Besides Jones’ free throws at the end of the game, his matchup against Brookins was spiced a little by a brief face-to-face confron­tation with 41 seconds left and Siena down, 52-46.

They were separated by the referee as Rossiter came over to escort Brookins away.

“He gave me an elbow, and I guess the ref didn’t see it,” Brookins said. “I told him, ‘Don’t elbow me,’ and he was saying whatever he was saying, and then that’s when the ref came in and told me to calm down. But I just let it go.”

Siena was also hurt by the play of the C.J. Aiken, one of three freshmen in the Hawks’ starting lineup.

He scored 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots, including seven straight points to give Saint Joe’s a 50-43 lead with 4:36 left.

Aiken, who graduated Plymouth-Whitmarsh in nearby Conshohocken, the same school that produced Siena great Ronald Moore, had a baseline reverse layup, a tip-in and a reverse dunk during that sequence.

“That layup on the baseline was big, because we were coming back,” Buonaguro said.

“We knew he was very active, very bouncy, so that’s what we expected him to do,” Rossiter said.

SIENA (48)

Anosike 3-6 0-2 6, Wignot 2-7 0-0 4, Rossiter 5-10 0-0 10, Downey 3-12 2-4 8, Brookins 5-11 0-0 12, Walters 0-0 0-2 0, Burdine 0-3 0-0 0, Martens 2-9 2-2 6, Breeden 1-6 0-1 2.

Totals: 21-64 4-11 48.

SAINT JOSEPH’S (58)

Quarles 2-6 0-0 4, Hilliard 2-3 0-0 4, Aiken 4-10 2-3 10, Galloway 4-12 1-1 10, Jones 5-16 6-8 17, Swilling 0-1 0-0 0, Crosgile 3-8 2-2 11, Roberts 0-0 0-0 0, Baptiste 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 21-58 11-14 58.

Halftime: Saint Joseph’s 27, Siena 23. Three-point goals: Siena 2-17 (Wignot 0-3, Rossiter 0-1, Downey 0-4, Brookins 2-2, Burdine 0-2, Martens 0-1, Breeden 0-4); Saint Joseph’s 5-22 (Quarles 0-2, Aiken 0-3, Galloway 1-5, Jones 1-4, Swilling 0-1, Crosgile 3-7). Rebounds: Siena 46 (Rossiter 15); Saint Joseph’s 39 (Aiken 9). Assists: Siena 9 (Downey, Breeden 3); Saint Joseph’s 10 (Jones 4). Total fouls: Siena 15; Saint Joseph’s 11. Attendance: 3,867.

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