Saints squander 16-point lead, 63-58

On a night when they passed out 4,000 free gold towels to Siena fans, Saint Peter’s, for once, refus
Siena’s OD Anosike goes up for a shot against Saint Peter’s Darius Conley Friday.
Siena’s OD Anosike goes up for a shot against Saint Peter’s Darius Conley Friday.

On a night when they passed out 4,000 free gold towels to Siena fans, Saint Peter’s, for once, refused to throw in the towel.

Down by 16 in the first half, the Peacocks hung in there and put the clamps on Siena in the final 12 minutes for a 63-58 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory in front of a Gold Rush crowd of 7,095 Friday at the Times Union Center.

It was just the third win in the last 17 games for the Peacocks (4-8 MAAC, 5-18 overall), who have beaten Siena (5-7, 10-12) twice this season.

Siena junior forward OD Anosike finished with nine points and 13 rebounds, stopping his nation-leading streak of double-doubles at 17 games.

The Saints had a chance for a game-tying three-pointer with 13.7 seconds left, but freshman point guard Evan Hymes was stripped of the ball by Brandon Hall, who went in for the uncontested game-clinching layup with seven seconds left.

“In my four years, I don’t think we’ve ever played well against Saint Peter’s,” Siena senior guard Kyle Downey said. “In the second half, it slowed down, and we tried to go one-on-one a little too much. That’s just not our game.”

“There’s no bad losses this year,” Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro said. “We’ve got to play really well every game. Saint Peter’s defends, they play an ugly game. It came down to the last couple of possessions, and I’ve got to move on from this. We’re disappointed, but we’re not going to overreact from it.”

“My guys played with great intensity, other than one stretch in the first half,” Saint Peter’s head coach John Dunne said. “In the past eight or nine games, we haven’t had a lot of confidence, so when teams got up on us, we hung our heads and lost intensity and stopped competing. All we talked about leading into the game was competing for all 40 minutes, and we did that.”

The Saints led, 25-9, with 7:26 left in the first half, but were outscored, 24-14, in the final 12 minutes.

Siena’s lead gradually got smaller in the second half, until Yvon Raymond put the Peacocks up for good, 51-49, with 5:22 to play.

Hymes made a long three-pointer with 19.2 seconds left to bring Siena within 59-58.

The Saints fouled Hall, who swished the first and rattled the second of two free throws with 13.7 seconds left for a 61-58 lead.

After a timeout, Siena tried to run a play for Downey, who scored 13 points in the first half and finished with 15, but Hymes was stripped by Hall while trying a crossover dribble behind the back, and that was the game.

“I was running a play for Downey, a double-down screen. They read it, so I tried to make a play for my team, and I couldn’t do it,” Hymes said. “Brandon Hall is a senior, he’s been there a long time, so I’m pretty sure he studied my film and knew I was probably going to try to use that crossover.”

Saint Peter’s had a strong gameplan to guard Anosike, uncharacteristically bringing double-teams to supplement the rugged one-on-one defense by Darius Conley when Siena had its bigger lineup on the floor.

Conley consistently kept Anosike out of his comfort zone down low, pushing him a few feet more off the block than he likes.

Anosike was 4-for-10 from the field and had a meaningless desperation tip attempt at the buzzer. He scored nine points, despite grabbing eight offensive rebounds.

Anosike expressed relief that the double-double streak, a constant subject of interviews, was over.

“I’m kind of happy the streak’s over,” he said. “I was never interested in a double-double streak, I never will be interested in a double-double streak. I was never interested in individual accolades, and never will be. I’m really happy that the double-double streak is over so I can concentrate on how to get a win Sunday.”

“Conley really played well,” Buon­aguro said. “He dominated the inside, and they got good bench play.”

Conley finished with 15 points, and Hall and Raymond each scored 11 off the bench.

Downey was hot early and scored 11 points in the first 13 minutes to help Siena go ahead, 25-9.

A follow dunk by Conley and a jumper by Chris Burke, the only points in the final 3:48 of the first half, got Saint Peter’s within 28-19 at halftime.

“If we stepped on their throat a little bit, maybe we could’ve taken some life out of them, but we let them get back in the game in the first half,” Anosike said.

“The first 13 minutes of the game, we couldn’t have played better; they played great in the second half,” Buonaguro said.

Siena’s Owen Wignot scored two quick baskets to start the second half, so Dunne called timeout.

“We said, ‘Don’t put your head down, I don’t want to see pouty

faces, I don’t want to see rolling eyes. I don’t want to see you guys arguing with one another.’ ” Dunne said. “If we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down fighting.”

The Peacocks went on a 10-2 run to get within 34-29, and Siena had a fight on its hands.


Conley 6-13 3-5 15, Prescott 3-7 0-0 8, Burke 2-7 1-2 5, Ffrench 0-2 2-2 2, Fulton 3-5 4-6 11, Raymond 5-6 1-6 11, Tucker 0-0 0-0 0, Hall 4-8 2-2 11. Totals: 23-48 13-23 63.

SIENA (58)

Anosike 4-10 1-4 9, Wignot 4-4 0-0 8, Walters 1-3 1-1 3, Downey 6-12 2-2 15, Hymes 3-15 5-6 14, Poole 3-6 2-2 9. Totals: 21-50

11-15 58.

Halftime: Siena 28, Saint Peter’s 19. Three-point goals: Saint Peter’s 4-9 (Prescott 2-3, Burke 0-1, Fulton 1-3, Hall 1-2); Siena 5-14 (Downey 1-2, Hymes 3-9, Poole 1-3). Rebounds: Saint Peter’s 29 (Raymond 7); Siena 33 (Anosike 13). Assists: Saint Peter’s 10 (Raymond 3); Siena 12 (Hymes 6). Total fouls: Saint Peter’s 14; Siena 17. Technical foul: Saint Peter’s coach Dunne. Attendance: 7,095.

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