For the first time in more than a decade, the Siena men’s basketball program secured a win at Saint Peter’s.
But Sunday’s 60-58 MAAC victory against the Peacocks very nearly concluded as the most devastating defeat during Siena’s run of futility at Saint Peter’s.
Siena led 57-34 after a bucket from Aidan Carpenter with less than eight minutes to go and appeared on its way to cruising to victory. What followed that basket from Carpenter, though, was a 21-0 run in Saint Peter’s favor, as a combination of the Peacocks’ offense waking up and Siena making mistakes set up a frantic finish.
A possession after missing a 3-pointer and then missing the front end of a one-and-one at the foul line, Colby Rogers made a pair of free throws for Siena with 11 seconds to go to put head coach Carmen Maciariello’s team up 59-55. Jaylen Murray answered with a basket for Saint Peter’s, then the Peacocks fouled Anthony Gaines with 1.2 seconds to go. Gaines made the first free throw, then missed the second — and Siena’s Jared Billups, pursuing the offensive rebound, fouled Saint Peter’s star KC Nfedo with 0.6 seconds left.
Ndefo made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second, but Saint Peter’s was unable to attempt a game-tying shot following the miss.
During his post-game radio interview on WGDJ-1300, Maciariello said his team was “playing not to lose instead of playing to win” during the final minutes of Sunday’s game.
“But we’re learning every day and I think this is the first time in 10 years that we won here, so I don’t care about what the [Saint Peter’s game-ending] run was,” Maciariello said. “We won the game, so we can talk about nitty and gritty, not pretty. We got it done.”
The victory was actually Siena’s first in 11 years at Saint Peter’s. Before Sunday’s game, Siena hadn’t won at Saint Peter’s since Jan. 28, 2010, when the Fran McCaffery-coached Saints won 66-58 with Ryan Rossiter leading the way with 21 points and nine rebounds. That 2010 win was the Saints’ 12th in a row at the time, and was part of a streak that saw the program win 15 consecutive games. Siena set a new program-best Division I winning streak last season when it won its 16th game in a row on Jan. 16 at Rider, with that streak starting during the 2019-20 season.
Siena had lost 10 consecutive games at Saint Peter’s following that Jan. 28, 2010 win. In between McCaffery and Maciariello, the head-coaching tenures of three Siena coaches — Mitch Buonaguro, Jimmy Patsos and Jamion Christian — started and ended without the Saints ever winning at Saint Peter’s.
In the victory, Carpenter scored a game-high 15 points to lead the Saints, while Rogers added 14 points, and Jordan Kellier had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Saint Peter’s Daryl Banks III scored all of his team-high 14 points in the final eight minutes of the second half, while Ndefo — the MAAC’s preseason player of the year — contributed eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
For the first 32-plus minutes Sunday at Run Baby Run Arena in Jersey City, New Jersey, Siena played some of its best basketball of the season despite missing two of its rotation’s top players. Siena was without Andrew Platek (lower leg) and Jackson Stormo (illness) for the contest, but Siena’s retooled starting lineup with no player taller than the 6-foot-6 Kellier looked like a seasoned group. Siena opened the game on a 16-2 that included all nine of Kellier’s first-half points.
At halftime, Siena led 36-25 with Carpenter and Rogers each scoring 10 points. Siena made 14 of 29 shots, including 5 of 10 from 3-point territory, in the opening 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Saint Peter’s only received two points from its starting lineup in the first half, and the Peacocks committed 10 turnovers — to Siena’s five — to take away from a strong shooting effort that saw them make 11 of 21 shots.
After Ndefo opened the second-half scoring with a basket, Siena answered with a 9-0 run to balloon its lead to 18 points. From there, Siena grew its lead to as many as 24 points and was up 23 after Carpenter’s final basket of the game made it 57-34.
Siena committed 10 turnovers before scoring again on Rogers’ free throws to snap Saint Peter’s 21-0 run. During that stretch of success for the Peacocks, Siena missed four field goals and two front ends of one-and-one trips to the foul line. Meanwhile, the final six points of Saint Peter’s 21-0 run were scored at the foul line, half of which the Peacocks’ Banks made when he was fouled taking a 3 with 1:19 to go.
In snapping its 10-game losing streak at Saint Peter’s, Siena evened its MAAC record at 1-1 and improved its overall mark to 3-6. Saint Peter’s fell to 2-4 overall and 1-1 in MAAC play.
“We’ve got to keep the foot on the gas pedal, but, when it’s all said and done, we came and got a much-needed road win,” Maciariello said.
After starting MAAC play with two games in three days, Siena next plays Saturday at Holy Cross in a non-conference game. Following that game, Siena won’t play again until a Dec. 28 game at American.