FORT MYERS, Fla. — Down by 17 in the second half, Siena might have figured its road woes out.
It happened just a bit too late.
The Saints went from getting blown out to having a chance to tie in the final seconds Friday night, but fell to Florida Gulf Coast 73-69 at Alico Arena. Marquis Wright’s 3-point try from the right wing sailed long with 6 seconds remaining, and the Saints (3-7) remained winless away from home this season.
“We’re learning,” Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said. “Everybody’s waiting for us to pack it in. We’re not going to pack it in. We’re playing hard. I thought our last 15 minutes showed that we’ve got something special here.”
Wright scored 16 and Brett Bisping added 15 for Siena, which felt it was on the wrong end of a foul call with 20.4 seconds left. FGCU’s Zach Johnson missed a dunk in transition, but referees said he was fouled even though replays indicated no Siena player was near him. Johnson made one free throw, putting the Eagles’ lead to three and the hosts would hang on from there.
Wright, playing with a chipped bone in his left hand, had nine assists and no turnovers. No player in Patsos’ time at Siena ever had as many assists in a turnover-free game.
“Marquis really found his way,” Patsos said.
Demetris Morant scored 16 points and Brandon Goodwin added 14 for FGCU (6-3).
The way the game was looking early in the second half, it probably surprised plenty that it went down to the wire.
Here’s a sign of how things were going for Siena over much of the night: At halftime, the net on the rim the Saints had just been defending needed to be replaced.
FGCU wore the old one out, making its last 14 shots of the half.
Down 17 with 14:08 left,
Siena picked that moment to finally hit its stride — but never got closer than two in the final moments.
“We didn’t stop playing,” Patsos said.
The Saints played without Nico Clareth, a double-digit scorer in all six of his appearances this season including a 33-point outing against Fairfield in a win last weekend. Clareth was out with knee soreness that has left him unable to practice in recent days.
FGCU came into Friday as a top-50 team in terms of RPI (a less-than-exact measurement so early in a season), and is the widely presumed favorite to repeat as Atlantic Sun champions this season. FGCU _ the “Dunk City” program that stunned college basketball by getting to the Sweet Sixteen as a No. 15 seed in 2013 — won a First Four game in the NCAAs last season and gave North Carolina all it wanted in the round of 64.
Siena is off until Dec. 17, when it plays host to Bucknell at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
“We need our fans there,” Patsos said.
Wright 5-13 6-7 16, Bisping 6-14 2-2 15, Ogunyemi 4-7 3-4 11, Long 3-7 1-2 7, Smithen 0-0 0-0 0, Shivers 3-4 1-2 7, Brandwijk 2-2 3-4 7, Richard 1-4 2-2 4, Fisher 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 25-52 18-23 69.
FLORIDA GULF COAST (73)
Morant 7-11 2-2 16, Goodwin 5-5 4-7 14, Johnson 2-3 6-15 11, Terrell 2-4 0-0 5, Simmons 2-7 1-2 5, Norelia 3-6 3-4 9, Reid 3-6 0-0 7, Tucker 2-3 0-0 4, Scott 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 27-47 16-30 73.
Halftime: FGCU 45, Siena 32. Three-point goals: Siena 1-8 (Wright 0-3, Bisping 1-4, Long 0-1); FGCU 3-5 (Johnson 1-2, Terrell 1-1, Reid 1-2). Rebounds: Siena 32 (Bisping 9); FGCU 26 (Norelia 8). Assists: Siena 13 (Wright 9); FGCU 12 (Goodwin, Johnson 3). Total fouls: Siena 23; FGCU 18. Fouled out: Wright. Attendance: 4,213.
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Categories: College Sports, Sports