Big second half a welcome sight for Saints

Siena held Maine without a field goal for the first 6:54 of the second half and outscored the Bears,

Where has this team been all year?

Siena held Maine without a field goal for the first 6:54 of the second half and outscored the Bears, 22-6, in the first 8:34 to take control on its way to a 71-60 victory in front of 8,311 at the Times Union Center on Saturday night.

The Saints (11-16) stopped a four-game losing streak, but perhaps more importantly, they put together the kind of performance they had been expecting of themselves all along.

It didn’t hurt that the Black Bears (14-13) decided not to double-team Ryan Rossiter, who scored 14 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for his 54th career double-double. An even more telling stat was his team-leading six assists out of the post, a product of extra work the Saints had been doing this week to get better spacing on offense, eliminating the tendency to stand around and passively watch Rossiter operate inside.

Five players scored in double digits for Siena, and shooting guard Clarence Jackson, bedeviled by a broken foot in the offseason and sprains in both ankles during the season, looked like his old self, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the second half.

“We needed it, big-time. That’s one of our better halves of the year,” Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro said. “Good ball movement. Our offense, which I spent a lot of time on the last two days, was a lot better. Ryan was kicking the ball out. He played a coach’s game, where he wasn’t forcing a lot and made the shots when we had to make them. Having Clarence make shots, we’re a totally different team. We’re a dangerous team.”

“Before shootaround today, coach made it very clear to take any shot you have,” Rossiter said. “If you’re open, put it up. If you miss it, you miss it, just get back on defense. Guys played, offensively, way more aggressively than we have been the past few games, and our defense didn’t have many let-ups.”

Maine was up by five at halftime, and Siena came out with a dom­inating all-around game in the second half, blocking four shots and holding the Black Bears to 0-for-11 from the field for almost seven minutes.

Freshman point guard Rakeem Brookins started the surge by making a three-pointer, and Jackson’s three gave Siena a 36-33 lead.

Maine had a three-on-one, but Brookins blocked Raheem Singleton’s layup attempt, leading to a sequence at the other end in which OD Anosike (10 points, 11 rebounds) had several tip-in attempts that failed to go. Jackson finally cleaned up the mess by laying it in for a 38-35 lead, which started a 7-0 run in which Brookins’ three made it 43-35.

“There was a big sequence in the first few minutes of the second half when we had some layup opportunities and unfortunately didn’t come up with much,” Maine head coach Ted Woodward said. “At the same time, they rose and made a couple key threes to give them a cushion.”

“I told them, two by two,” Buonaguro said. “I’m big on that. It was five points [at halftime], it wasn’t the end of the world, and our guys responded to that. Every possession got better. With a team that’s lost four games in a row, you can’t start putting more pressure on them. Hey, relax, we’re down five, we’re playing well, two by two, and then we got the run. That’s as good as we’ve played in three weeks, four weeks.”

Maine briefly interruped Siena’s surge with two free throws by Terrance Mitchell, after which the Trenity Burdine finished a crisp give-and-go with Rossiter, Jackson made a steal and spun in for a layup and Brookins made his third three of the half for a 57-41 lead.

“Ryan’s an old-time player,” Buonaguro said. “He’ll pass to you if you cut.”

“He [Rossiter] did a very good job of finding people,” Woodward said. “He’s a problem.”

Maine got within 62-56 with 2:13 left, but Rossiter answered with a baseline turnaround, and Siena made seven of eight free throws in the final 1:16.

Siena was 8-for-16 from three-point range, including three each by Brookins and Jackson.

“Coming off the motion game we ran, coming off screens, curling and stuff like that . . . I tried to move around a lot more and make the defender work a lot harder,” Jackson said.

“We needed that one bad,” Brookins said. “We were coming off four losses, and I know we were down on ourselves, but we gathered together, bonded and came out with a lot of energy for this game.”

The game wasn’t televised, but was part of ESPN’s BracketBusters menu of games.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference won nine of 10 games on Saturday.

Only Canisius lost, to Boston University, 70-62.

MAINE (60)

Barnies 5-15 4-4 14, McNally 1-7 3-4 5, Singleton 4-8 0-0 8, Mitchell 2-6 4-4 9, McLemore 3-12 0-0 7, Rogers 0-1 0-0 0, Fraser 1-3 0-0 2, Peay 4-6 3-4 11, Allison 2-4 0-0 4. Totals: 22-62 14-16 60.

SIENA (71)

Anosike 3-5 4-5 10, Wignot 0-1 2-2 2, Rossiter 7-17 0-0 14, Brookins 4-10 2-2 13, Jackson 5-10 4-4 17, Burdine 4-6 2-2 12, Downey 0-3 0-0 0, Griffin 0-0 0-0 0, Martens 0-0 0-0 0, Breeden 1-1 1-2 3. Totals: 24-53 15-17 71.

Halftime: Maine 33, Siena 28. Three-point goals: Maine 2-13 (Singleton 0-1, Mitchell 1-5, McLemore 1-5, Rogers 0-1, Allison 0-1); Siena 8-16 (Wignot 0-1, Rossiter 0-1, Brookins 3-4, Jackson 3-6, Burdine 2-4). Rebounds: Maine 31 (Barnies 9); Siena 38 (Rossiter 16, Anosike 11). Assists: Maine 5 (Mitchell, Rogers 2); Siena 14 (Rossiter 6). Total fouls: Maine 17; Siena 14. Attendance: 8,311.

Categories: College Sports

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