The Siena men’s basketball nickname is no longer the Indians, but Wednesday’s season opener may as well have been a stage performance of Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians.”
OD Anosike went to the bench with foul trouble.
Owen Wignot disappeared into the locker room with a head injury.
Kyle Downey, foul trouble.
Evan Hymes, leg cramp.
And then there was one.
Despite a depleted bench populated by just a single scholarship player, freshman Marcus Hopper, the Saints pulled out a 65-56 victory over Navy in front of 5,896 at the Times Union Center.
Senior Kyle Downey played all but one minute of the game and scored 19 points, including a big three-pointer late, senior center Brandon Walters was productive (12 points, seven rebounds) in 39 minutes and the four freshmen each made important contributions.
“It was an incredible win from that standpoint,” Downey said.
“These guys showed what they’re made of, with Owen getting hurt and we didn’t have many bodies out there,” Walters said. “Everyone played together, played smart and played unselfish.”
Already down to 10 players because of injuries and NCAA rulings, Siena dressed just eight scholarship players and two walk-ons against Navy.
Anosike, expected to be one of the top scorers and the leading rebounder this season, picked up his second foul with just 4:59 off the clock, and sat the rest of the first half.
Wignot was right behind him less than a minute and a half later, when he crashed to the floor on a made layup that drew a foul. He held the back of his head and, woozy, was escorted to the locker room, never to return.
Hymes, instrumental in a big run at the start of the second half, left the game for good with 13:03 left. By then, Downey had picked up his fourth foul, but head coach Mitch Buonaguro put him back in with 10:00 left.
“I thought that was a bad coaching move, but I obviously wasn’t going to argue with it,” Downey said with a grin.
“That was a no-brainer,” Buonaguro said. “The game was starting to get out of hand, and he was the best player out there. I had to have him out there, and he hung in there. Without him, we don’t win the game.”
Downey, who averaged 4.7 points per game in his first three seasons, got back in there as Navy (2-1) was making a comeback from a 47-34 deficit.
The Midshipmen continued to gradually chip away at the lead.
Walters missed a baseline dunk attempt, but the ball somehow bounced off the backboard and went through for a 54-46 lead with 4:51 left.
“I don’t know,” he said with a sheepish grin. “Everything blacked out on me. I’m happy it went in.”
Isaiah Roberts came right back with a layup in transition for Navy, but Downey made a three from the right corner to give the Saints a 57-48 lead with 4:28 left.
“That one felt pretty good,” Downey said. “They were in a 1-3-1, and that was kind of messing us up, because we haven’t really worked against that. We walked through it yesterday, but no one really knows the offense for it. We split them up, and Robby [Poole] got the ball high in the backcourt, they sucked out on me, he swung it and I was wide open because their back guy didn’t pop out. But it was pretty good ball movement.”
Navy cut it to 60-56 with 45.9 seconds left on a three by Jordan Brickman.
Siena benefitted from a 25-12 advantage in fouls, and made five of six free throws down the stretch to close it out.
“They’ve had a lot of injuries and some things that happened to them, but their kids really stuck together tonight,” Navy head coach Ed DeChellis said. “We were just trying to figure out who we are. We weren’t really trying to do anything to play against their short bench.
“We thought about pressing a little bit, but we’re not really a pressing team.”
Downey, a 6-foot-2 guard from Fairport, was 8-for-14 from the field and also had five rebounds.
“I don’t really think I had a big game,” he said. “I thought I played OK. I still missed a couple stupid shots that could’ve put the game away. I missed two floaters in the second half, and that’s my game. I played decent enough to win.”
Anosike wasn’t much of a factor on offense, missing two shots and scoring just one point, but he had 10 rebounds in 25 minutes.
Walters made up for Anosike’s lack of offensive production inside on 5-for-10 shooting.
Hymes said he expects to play at Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday. Buonaguro said he wasn’t sure if Wignot, who missed two game last season because of concussion-like symptoms, will be in the lineup.
Wignot was still groggy after the game, and was not available to the media.
Loupos 0-1 0-0 0, Avila 9-15 0-0 19, Wyatt 0-1 0-0 0, Roberts 2-7 2-2 6, Sugars 2-8 3-6 8, Alter 0-2 0-0 0, Wynn 4-5 0-1 8, Brickman 1-3 0-0 3, C. Smith 1-3 0-0 2, W. Smith 4-9 0-0 2, Jackson 0-0 0-0 0, Venturini 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-54 5-9 56.
Anosike 0-2 1-4 1, Wignot 2-2 0-0 4, Walters 5-10 2-5 12, Downey 8-14 2-3 19, Hymes 3-6 3-3 10, Hopper 1-1 1-1 3, Beard 1-5 5-7 7, Poole 3-7 3-4 9.
Halftime: Siena 30, Navy 25. Three-point goals: Navy 5-22 (Avila 1-5, Wyatt 0-1, Roberts 0-2, Sugars 1-6, Alter 0-2, Wynn 0-1,
Brickman 1-2, W. Smith 2-3); Siena 2-10 (Downey 1-2, Hymes 1-3, Beard 0-2, Poole 0-3). Rebounds: Navy 30 (Sugars 9); Siena 32 (Anosike 10). Assists: Navy 14 (Wynn 4); Siena 13 (Beard 4). Total fouls: Navy 25; Siena 12. Attendance: 5,896.
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Categories: College Sports