HAMDEN, Conn. — In a balanced effort on the heels of a 71-59 loss at Monmouth on Tuesday, Siena answered a Quinnipiac comeback by making the plays that mattered in the final four minutes for a 78-71 victory at People’s United Center on Thursday night.
Senior center Jackson Stormo had to deal with some foul trouble, but the Saints got solid contributions from backup big men Michael Baer and Jordan Kellier, and Colby Rogers and Nick Hopkins were a combined 7-for-11 from 3-point range.
“A gritty, tough road win,” Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said in a post on the team Twitter account. “Obviously, a tough loss against Monmouth, but I thought we showed resolve, we showed toughness. Everyone that got on the court contributed. Our bench’s energy was great. We made our free throws, and took care of the basketball.”
At 11-6 in the MAAC, Siena (14-11 overall) pulled a half-game ahead of Saint Peter’s and Monmouth for sole possession of second place in the conference.
After the Bobcats scored the first two points of the game, Siena tied it and then led for almost the rest of the game, until Quinnipiac used a 12-4 run to go ahead 64-63 with 5:01 left.
The Saints answered with two free throws from Jared Billups, a jumper by Anthony Gaines and a three-point play by Stormo with 1:00 left to go up 72-67.
Gaines, Rogers and Javian McCollum each went 2-for-2 from the free throw line in the final 33 seconds to keep Quinnipiac at arm’s length.
“I think [in] a decisive 9-2 run down the stretch when they took a one-point lead, we didn’t fold,” Maciariello said. “I thought Anthony Gaines stepped up, Jackson … Colby and Nick both made shots.”
Hopkins finished with 12 points, and the freshman guard Billups had 10 points and led Siena with seven rebounds.
Dezi Jones led Quinnipiac with 24 points, Luis Kortright scored 18 and Tymu Chenery scored 16.
Baer and Kellier, who each came in averaging just over 11 minutes per game off the bench, played 16 and 20, respectively. Baer, averaging 1.8 points per game, scored eight on 4-for-6 from the field, and Kellier had four points, four rebounds and two steals. They each also blocked a shot.
Stormo picked up his third foul of the game less than a minute into the second half and his fourth with 9:05 left, but he was back in there for crunch time.