A sensational comeback bid came up just short for the Siena College basketball team.
Down by as much as 25 in the first half to hot-shooting Iona, Siena came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, finding the range inside and holding the Gaels scoreless for nearly eight minutes. The Saints even grabbed a 73-72 lead after a Brett Bisping tip-in with 3:39 to go.
But A.J. English drained a big 3-pointer to halt the Saints’ momentum, and then the 6-foot-4 senior guard added another trey with 1:34 remaining to help the Gaels pull away again for an 87-81 triumph.
English, considered an NBA prospect, finished with a game-high 32 points, and the Gaels (14-4, 17-10) not only solidified second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, but also avenged an 81-78 loss to Siena in New Rochelle last week.
Siena (12-6, 19-10) saw its three-game winning streak snapped, and the Saints remained one game short of clinching their 16th 20-win season.
Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos was disappointed, but not angry about his team’s loss to the powerful Gaels.
“That was a really good basketball game,” he said. “We came all the way back to eventually grab the lead, but they made two big 3s at the end. We lost A.J. at the end. But I’m proud of the way our guys cam back. That was a great, entertaining game.”
Siena senior forward Brett Bisping had a sensational second half, finishing with 17 points and 18 rebounds.
“I didn’t think we were ready to go in the beginning,” Bisping said. “We weren’t engaged until we went on that run in the second half.“
“Our guys are very young,” Patsos added. “They didn’t play with passion or emotion in the first half. But I didn’t yell or scream at them at halftime. I just told them if they wanted to change things, change it.”
Iona dominated on both ends of the court in the first 20 minutes. The Gaels connected on 10 of 13 shots from 3-point range, and English tossed in 22 points.
But Siena went inside to Bisping, Lavon Long (18 points) and Javion Ogunyemi (18 points), and the Saints turned up the heat defensively to make it a game.
“A.J. made some big plays down the stretch for us,” Iona head coach Tim Cluess said. “They [the Saints] did a number on us on the boards in the second half. Also, we got into foul trouble in the second half, and we had to play smaller. We didn’t have as much depth, and Siena got a lot of offensive rebounds. That hurt us.”
English said the Gaels came out with a lot of energy but that the Saints made some defensive adjustments. “They are a good team. They are going to make some changes, but I didn’t notice anything they did differently on me,” he said.
Siena, which is locked into the night session in the opening round of the MAAC tournament, plays at Fairfield Wednesday and closes out the regular season by hosting Quinnipiac on Sunday.
Washington 4-11 0-2 8, Williams 2-7 1-2 5, Muhammad 1-6 0-0 3, English 10-20 6-6 32, Much 8-12 3-3 23, McGill 2-3 0-0 5, Proctor 2-3 0-0 5, Rountree 2-3 2-6 6, Hines 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 31-65 12-19 87.
Long 7-12 4-5 18, Bisping 6-10 4-4 17, Ogunyemi 5-10 8-10 18, Oliver 2-4 0-0 5, Wormley 1-2 0-0 3, Wright 4-12 3-3 11, Clareth 3-14 0-2 6, LaRose 0-0 0-0 0, Fisher 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 29-65 19-24 81.
Halftime: Iona 57-36. 3-point goals: Iona 13-27 (Muhammad 1-4, English 6-11, Much 4-8, McGill 1-1, Proctor 1-1, Rountree 0-1); Siena 4-21 (Bisping 1-4, Ogunyemi 0-1, Oliver 1-3, Wormley 1-2, Wright 0-3, Clareth 0-7, Fisher 1-1). Rebounds: Iona 34 (Washington 9), Siena 44 (Bisping 18). Assists: Iona 18 (Rountree 5), Siena 18 (Clareth 6). Personal fouls: Iona 20, Siena 18. Fouled out: Washington, Bisping. Officials: Bill McCarthy, Jeffrey Anderson, John Gaffney. Attendance: 6,026
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: College Sports