Symone Kelly, Siena’s only active senior player, fouled out with 4:31 left in the game and the outcome of Friday’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women’s quarterfinal at Times Union Center hardly in doubt. It signaled the end of an up-and-down season for the youthful Saints.
Siena (14-18), seeded seventh, couldn’t handle second-seeded Iona’s sharp three-point shooting and rugged rebounding, and the Saints dropped a 64-47 decision to the Gaels, a day after a bizarre opening-round overtime game where Siena held on against Rider despite having five Saints foul out and finishing with just four players on the court.
That foul-plagued, roller-coaster game might have had something to do with the Saints’ relative lack of energy against Iona, but the Gaels were definitely more talented on both ends of the court. Siena would have needed a near-perfect performance to beat the Gaels, and the Saints didn’t get one.
All-MAAC first-team sel ection Joy Adams poured in 20 points to go along with 14 rebounds, Aaliyah Robinson drilled five 3-pointers en route to 17 points, and the Gaels sank nine 3-pointers overall.
“Obviously, today didn’t go the way we would have liked,” Siena head coach Ali Jaques said. “Give our team credit for not quitting. We came up with some empty possessions today, but we were up against a very good team. Joy Adams’s career is a double-double and she’s the MAAC’s all-time leading rebounder. I’m glad we won’t have to see her next year.”
Kelly, who scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds in 17 minutes, thanked Siena for everything she experienced over the last four years, although two of those seasons were injury-plagued.
“I’m just now realizing it’s over. I’ve had some great opportunities here, especially over the last two seasons,” she said.
Jaques said Iona was a tough matchup for the Saints.
“They spread you out, and they all have the ability to shoot,” she said. “Robinson loves hanging out in the corner and shooting threes, and Iona has the best point guard in the league.”
Jaques was already putting this season behind her and looking ahead.
“Chalk this year up to experience,” she said. “It’s over. I think it hit them in the locker room. We’ve got talent, and we’ve got toughness. That should help us next year.”
Jaques said she expects injured sophomore forward Margot Hetzke to come back strong next year, and she hopes to add some strong recruits to join her young core group.
“We’ve got to grow up defensively, and we will,” she said. “My players didn’t quit today. But this year I had two freshmen point guards. I’m looking forward to a fountain of experience next year. I have the core of this team coming back, and we will be better.”
Freshman Jackie Benitez, who came on strong at the end of the season, can’t wait until next year.
“I’m upset it’s over. We will miss Symone, but I know we will be much better next year,” she said.
Iona head coach Billi Godsey praised her team’s strong effort.
“This was a very physical game, and I’m really excited how our girls matched Siena’s intensity,” she said. “The shots we got were there for us. I liked the shots we were getting. We wanted to play inside- out. Joy had her usual strong game inside, and Aailyah made four straight 3-pointers in one stretch.”
Siena got 20 points from its bench. Benitez topped the Saints with nine points.
Kelly 1-3 5-6 7, Donohue 3-10 0-0 6, Petty-Evans 3-15 0-0 8, Scarbrough 0-2 2-2 2, Rawls 2-3 0-0 4, Benitez 3-8 2-5 9, Gibson 4-9 0-0 8, Edoka 1-1 1-2 3, Severova 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 17-52 10-15 47.
DuPree 2-3 0-0 4, Adams 5-13 9-12 20, Lizarazu 4-13 1-2 11, Gilmore 0-9 1-2 1, Robinson 6-10 00 17, Mahoney 0-0 0-0 0, Wortley 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis 1-5 1-2 4, Clay 2-2 3-4 7, Ahvenainen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 20-56 15-22 64.
Siena 7 15 16 9 — 47
Iona 11 22 18 13 — 64
Three-point goals: Iona 9-27 (Adams 1-3, Lizarazu 2-5, Gilmore 0-6, Robinson 5-9, Lewis 1-4); Siena 3-13 (Petty-Evans 2-8, Benitez 1-3, Gibson 0-2). Rebounds: Iona 44 (Adams 14), Siena 33 (Edoka 7). Assists: Iona 1 (Gilmore 5), Siena 7 (Petty-Evans 2, Gibson 2). Personal fouls: Iona 14, Siena 19. Fouled out: Kelly. Technical fouls: Edoka.
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