His team had a “lack of urgency” and a “lack of focus,” and that’s what Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello said led to Saturday’s 64-62 loss at Gallagher Center in Lewiston.
“And that’s disappointing. I can’t want it more than these guys,” Maciariello said during a post-game teleconference after his team’s loss to Niagara. “They have to be able to lock in and focus. . . . We’ve preached it — they even tell it to you guys in the media — that the ‘details matter.’ Well, the details didn’t matter enough today and we lost. It’s point blank. No excuses. No this, that or anything. We lost the game. Give credit to Niagara.”
Siena only made 1 of 14 attempts from 3-point territory, not including a long-range, desperation attempt from senior Manny Camper in the game’s final seconds with Niagara junior Raheem Solomon contesting the shot.
“Not going to win on the road shooting 1 of 14 from 3 and turning it over 14 times,” said Maciariello, who declined to make any players available for comment after Saturday’s defeat in Siena’s first game since ending its most-recent pause.
But Siena (8-3 MAAC, 8-3 overall) nearly did topple a Niagara (7-8, 8-9) team that was also coming back from a program pause related to COVID-19 test results. The Saints led 60-59 with less than a minute to play after a pair of free throws from graduate student Nick Hopkins, but Niagara pushed back ahead on a basket from redshirt Kobi Nwandu.
Maciariello lamented after Saturday’s game that his team “had a charge, we had a turnover, we had a bad shot” in many key moments. But the Saints were precise in their offensive execution after Nwandu’s basket, and junior Jalen Pickett — who only made 1 of 9 shots and scored five points — found sophomore Jordan King for an open 3-point attempt on their next possession.
King’s shot, though, was off the mark. Soloman made two free throws to increase Niagara’s lead to three points, and Pickett answered with two foul shots with 4.4 seconds to go since Niagara opted to foul rather than let Siena attempt a game-tying 3.
Soloman made one more free throw with 3.5 seconds left in the game, then missed his second attempt. Camper gathered the rebound and raced up the court, but his shot was well short — and the looks from several Saints to one of the game’s officials didn’t result in a foul being called and free throws being awarded.
Siena, Maciariello said, “did enough things” to be competitive.
“But we didn’t do enough to win the game,” Maciariello said.
Nwandu scored a game-high 16 points, while junior teammate Marcus Hammond added 15.
Four Saints had at least 10 points. King had a team-high 13 points, while sophomore Kyle Young and junior Jackson Stormo — the team’s centers — each had a dozen points while battling foul trouble that limited Young to 14 minutes before he fouled out and Stormo to 20 minutes.
Camper contributed 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, but Pickett — the reigning MAAC Player of the Year — continued to struggle offensively since hurting his hamstring in the team’s third game of the season. Pickett had four rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks, but he missed all five of his 3-point attempts.
Maciariello said that Pickett “needs to be aggressive,” and said the guard maintains he is healthy enough to play.
“He says he’s good. He says he’s healthy,” Maciariello said. “So we need to trust his evaluation of himself and his body.”
Pickett averaged 17.7 points per game on 44.2% shooting prior to his injury. He missed three games because of the injury, and has played in five games since returning. During those five games back, Pickett has averaged 8.8 points on 27.7% shooting.
Siena and Niagara play again in Lewiston Sunday at noon.
“We need to bounce back. We need to play better, to be honest with you,” Maciariello said. “You’ve got to make shots, and you’ve got to be able to defend and rebound.”