LOUDONVILLE — He saw the loss coming.
When it arrived, Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello almost didn’t seem to mind.
“A loss that was needed,” Maciariello said after Saint Peter’s knocked off Siena 68-62 Friday at Alumni Recreation Center, a MAAC defeat that snapped Siena’s Division I program winning streak of 16 games.
The final score ended up looking OK, but Siena used a late run and bunch of help from Saint Peter’s to make that the case. The Peacocks — the last team to beat Siena prior to its 16-game winning streak — outhustled and outworked Siena during a 24-5 surge that had them ahead 55-39 midway through the second half. Siena played a spirited final 10 minutes, but too many missed shots kept it from taking advantage of a stretch of more than eight minutes during which Saint Peter’s didn’t score after pushing that 16-point lead.
How much of a missed opportunity was there for Siena down the stretch?
At one point, the Saints had an active 10-0 run — and had missed 10 of their last 11 shots.
Even with junior star Jalen Pickett (hamstring) back in the team’s lineup after missing its last three games, Maciariello said he could sense Siena (6-1, 6-1) wasn’t right heading into its matchup with a Saint Peter’s (4-3, 7-5) team that hadn’t played in 20 days. As the team’s winning streak grew and individual awards added up, Maciariello said the Saints started to “think that we’ve arrived.”
Maciariello continued: “And we’re not very good.”
So Siena, mostly on the strength of a really strong start, built to a 31-29 lead at halftime — and, then, Saint Peter’s blitzed Siena in the opening 10 minutes of the second half. Siena senior Manny Camper said his team “just lacked a sense of urgency” and “didn’t come out . . . paying attention to the small things,” and neither of those two thoughts applied to the way Saint Peter’s handled itself in handing Siena its first home loss since the 2018-19 season.
“They wanted it more tonight,” Camper said during the postgame teleconference.
After Saint Peter’s moved ahead 55-39, Siena scored the game’s next dozen points. But Siena missed opportunities to make its run even more significant with all of its missed shots, then saw Saint Peter’s end the run with a made 3-pointer from sophomore Daryl Banks that also gained a free throw for the Peacocks when Siena sophomore Jordan King — the reigning MAAC Player of the Week — fouled Banks on the shot.
“Those things are deflating,” Maciariello said, “and we still were kind of able to come back.”
Siena got within three points twice in the final minute, but never had possession of the ball with a chance to tie.
In his return from injury, Pickett had eight points and seven assists in 33 minutes. King led the Saints with 21 points, while Camper had 18 points and nine rebounds. Siena’s bench players only offered four points in a combined 46 minutes.
For Saint Peter’s, junior KC Ndefo had 16 points and seven rebounds — plus six blocked shots.
“That’s what he does,” Camper said of the NCAA leader in blocks with an average of 3.8 per game. “He’s a good player.”
Siena has plenty of good players — and Maciariello said his team won some of its first six games on the strength of “some talented guys,” and didn’t like the way his team played last weekend at Rider.
Against Saint Peter’s, its nonchalance and mistakes cost Siena.
“You could see the lack of execution, and guys not knowing where to go in certain instances,” Maciariello said.
Siena hosts Saint Peter’s again Saturday night at 7 p.m. Heading into that rematch, the message from Maciariello to his players seemed pretty well set.
“We,” Maciariello said, “haven’t done anything yet.”
And, even just minutes after Friday’s loss, that message seemed to be understood.
“We can’t just expect to show up at games and think we can win every one,” King said.