The record, Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello allowed, is “nice.”
But these Saints had last season ended for them prematurely when their sport shut down because of concerns related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, a finish that arrived with them two wins shy of claiming the program’s first NCAA tournament bid since Fran McCaffery’s 2009-10 Saints.
So, 16 consecutive wins in a row, a streak that goes back to last season, isn’t nothing. It’s a new program record for consecutive wins at the Division I level, breaking the 15-game mark of that 2009-10 team, and it matches the overall program record that Siena set from the end of the 1949-50 season into the beginning of the 1950-51 campaign.
But it’s not something the Saints want this season to be remembered for achieving.
“Does it really mean anything, right now, if we don’t continue this journey and get better every single day? I don’t know,” Maciariello said after the Saints’ 74-72 MAAC win Saturday night at Rider in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. “But to be in the record books is something special.”
Siena (6-0, 6-0) almost didn’t hang on for the win against Rider (3-7, 3-10) despite holding a 17-point lead at one point in the second half. Rider used an 11-2 run late in the second half to get within 63-60 with 3:27 to go, and the Saints never could pull away much after that. Siena had two turnovers in the final minute, but Rider’s comeback bid came up short when Dwight Murray’s long-range jumper — taken as Siena freshman Aidan Carpenter contested the shot — missed at the buzzer, allowing Siena to hold on for its third consecutive win without junior star Jalen Pickett (right hamstring) able to play.
“Luckily, we escaped — but that’s a good team,” Maciariello said. “We knew it was going to be tough, and we’ll take the two wins and head home.”
After setting a career-high with 21 points in Friday’s win, sophomore Jordan King set a new career-best mark with 22. King — a walk-on player last season for the Saints following his high school career at CBA — made 6 of 9 shots from the field, including 4 of 6 from 3-point territory. He also made all six of his free throws, including four in the final minute.
“I just love his heart,” Maciariello said of King, an Albany native. “I think he’s just a warrior. I think he competes all the time he’s on the court, and he just continues to get better.”
King also had six assists.
Graduate student Nick Hopkins had 16 points for Siena, while freshman Colin Golson scored 14. Siena senior Manny Camper scored seven points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
“Excited we won a road win with 18 turnovers,” said Maciariello, who was the only member of the Siena program made available to speak with reporters during the team’s post-game teleconference. “We had some lulls offensively. I thought guys kind of got tired [and made] uncharacteristic plays. But that’s the beauty of having a good team. We were able to grind it out.”
Allen Powell led Rider with 18 points.
Siena is next scheduled to play Friday, at its home Alumni Recreation Center, against Saint Peter’s.