Rob Poole answered all the questions about his injured ankle by returning to form.
The senior guard missed the last two games because of a severely sprained ankle, and he was questionable for Friday night’s game with Marist. Although he didn’t start in the first half, he ended up playing 32 minutes and finished with a game-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds, leading Siena to a 69-60 victory over Marist at the Times Union Center.
Siena, 5-4 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 8-10 overall, hosts Saint Peter’s on Sunday. Marist falls to 0-9 and 1-18.
Poole entered the game with 15:52 left in the opening half. He took only two shots, making one, and had three points while playing 14 minutes.
But Poole was in the starting lineup after intermission, and his shooting touch returned. He made six of 11 shots, including 5-for-7 from three-point range. He was also 3-for-4 from the line.
“We had our game plan set without Rob, but he said he felt good,” said Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos. “We practiced here [Times Union Center] Thursday night, and we wanted to see how he felt today. He wanted to play, but we already had a game plan all set with Ryan [Oliver] in the starting lineup, so we kept it that way.
“I liked what I saw in Rob early in the second half. He was fiery.”
“When the shots go in, you feel pretty good,” said Poole. “I wanted to get some shots up. I had a lot of open looks, and they went in. It’s all about making shots. Sure, you need to play good defense, but in the end, you’ve got to make shots.”
Poole said his ankle was still very sore, but he expects to play Sunday against the Peacocks.
“I’ve only got 11 [games] left in my career,” he said.
“Rob was shooting the ball great,” said sophomore point guard Marquis Wright. “I’m glad he’s back.”
Poole wasn’t the only Saint who played a strong game. Sophomore swingman Lavon Long scored 15 points; Wright produced 14 points, five rebounds and four assists; and sophomore center Javion Ogunyemi added 11 points and five rebounds. Freshman center Willem Brandwijk added eight rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
“We had to wake up in the second half,” said Brandwijk. “We had to step up. We weren’t playing very well at all in the first half.”
With 23 fouls called in the opening half, the teams settled for a 28-28 draw, but the Saints, behind Poole’s three three-pointers, went on a 20-2 spurt to turn a 33-30 deficit into a 50-35 lead.
Siena extended its lead to 15 (56-41) once again, but the Red Foxes made four three-pointers in the final three minutes to whittle their deficit back to eight. Poole and Evan Hymes combined for four foul shots in the final 30 seconds to secure the victory.
“We had 6,800 fans here tonight, and they helped us pull away,” said Patsos, who added that Steven Cruz, a popular walk-on who graduated last year, gave a strong halftime speech to motivate the Saints.
“We have to get better making plays down the stretch, but there was no lack of effort,” Patsos said. “They [the Red Foxes] made some late three-pointers to make it closer. They ended up making 10 threes. We have to do a better job against that.”
Brooks 0-2 0-0 0, Lawrence 2-4 2-3 7, Lewis 7-21 5-8 19, Hart 4-14 1-2 11, Curry 4-6 2-2 14, Colletta 0-0 0-0 0, Lee 0-4 0-0 0, Momah 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas 2- 0-0 6, McCleneghan 1-2 0-0 3. Totals: 20-59 10-15 60
Brandwijk 0-4 1-4 1, Long 5-8 4-6 15, Ogunyemi 5-9 1-4 11, Wright 4-10 6-8 14, Oliver 1-2 3-4 6. Hymes 0-1 2-2 2, Paige 0-0 0-0 0, White 0-1 0-0 0, Poole 6-11 3-4 20. Totals: 21-46 20-32 69.
Halftime: Siena 28, Marist 28. Three-point goals: Marist 10-29 (Lawrence 1-2, Lewis 0-5, Hart 2-9, Curry 4-6, Lee 0-1, Thomas 2-5, McClenaghan 1-1); Siena 7-12 (Brandwijk 0-1, Long 1-1, Wright 0-1, Oliver 1-2, Poole 5-7). Rebounds: Marist 36 (Lewis 8), Siena 38 (Brandwijk 8). Assists: Marist 11 (Lewis 4), Siena 10 (Wright 4). Total fouls: Marist 27, Siena 17. Fouled out: Hart, Lee. Technical fouls: Phillips, Wright. Officials: John Gaffney, D.J. Carstensen, Mike Kelly. Attendance: 6,770.
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