Less than a week after suffering a double-digit loss at Monmouth, the Siena men’s basketball team gets a second chance against the Hawks.
Siena and Monmouth meet Sunday at 2 p.m. at MVP Arena in Albany for the Saints’ final home game of the regular season. Siena (11-6 MAAC, 14-11 overall) and Monmouth (10-7, 18-10) are each still in the mix for the No. 2 seed for the upcoming MAAC tournament.
When the teams met Tuesday in West Long Branch, New Jersey, Monmouth cruised past Siena 71-59 in a game that saw the Hawks lead by as many as 21 points in the second half. Siena only made 21 of 66 overall from the field in that game. George Papas led Monmouth in scoring with 18 points, Walker Miller added 15 and Shavar Reynolds produced a dozen. Nikkei Rutty only scored two points, but had a career-high 19 rebounds. For the Saints, Jackson Stormo had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Siena bounced back with a 78-71 win Thursday against Quinnipiac at People’s United Center in Hamden, Connecticut. Perhaps most importantly, though, Siena had the chance to get some rest following that win; the victory against Quinnipiac ended a stretch of four games in seven days for head coach Carmen Maciariello’s Saints.
Since playing Siena, Monmouth lost 70-65 Friday to Saint Peter’s (11-6, 13-11). The Saints’ game against Monmouth will be their first since their Feb. 18 loss against Marist in which they’re coming off more days of rest than their opponent.
SETTING THE SCENE
Every MAAC team is in action Sunday except for Marist (9-9, 14-13), and a loss against Monmouth could severely damage the Saints’ chances of earning the No. 2 seed for the MAAC tournament.
At the moment, Siena controls its own destiny to the No. 2 seed; if the Saints win their final three games, they’ll take the No. 2 seed. At the moment, Siena is tied with Saint Peter’s for that spot, but Siena swept the season series from Saint Peter’s to earn that head-to-head tiebreaker.
A loss for Siena against Monmouth, though, would mean the Saints could end the weekend anywhere from second to fourth place with only their two-game trip to western New York left in their regular season — and the last time Siena won on the road at Canisius (4-13, 8-20) and Niagara (7-10, 12-14) in consecutive games was in 2016.
Siena has already clinched a first-round bye in the MAAC, as has Iona and Saint Peter’s. Iona has clinched the MAAC regular-season championship and the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.
Siena will celebrate senior day before its game against Monmouth, and Maciariello said the Saints will honor five members of their program: scholarship players Nick Hopkins, Anthony Gaines and Michael Tertsea, walk-on player Rob Mahala and manager Carter Morelli.
Of the scholarship players, Gaines could play one more college season, but Maciariello said “the plan was one year” for the graduate student at Siena. Hopkins and Tertsea have no remaining playing eligibility after this season.
Siena has other seniors and graduate students — Michael Baer, Jayce Johnson, Andrew Platek and Jackson Stormo — on its roster, but Maciariello said the expectation is that those players will return next season for the Saints.
A four-year member of Siena’s program, Mahala is a two-year captain for the Saints. The walk-on player has regularly earned praise from Maciariello throughout his Siena career.
“He has high character, he’s hard-working, dedicated. He understands his role and understands basketball,” Maciariello said recently on Mahala. “He knows every position on the floor and every single play.”