ALBANY — In diagnosing how his team survived a roller-coaster second half Monday night against St. Bonaventure, Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello simply had to look at the players sitting on either side of him at the Saints’ post-game press conference.
Glancing at Jackson Stormo to his right and Javian McCollum to his left, Maciariello easily identified the two biggest reasons why the Saints came away with a 76-70 victory at MVP Arena to regain the Br. Ed Coughlin Franciscan Cup.
“These two guys were the calming influence on the floor,” Maciariello said. “Jackson and Javian did a tremendous job just keeping these guys locked in.”
Stormo and McCollum combined for 37 points on just 19 shots. McCollum, Siena’s sophomore point guard, finished with 23 points on 7 of 13 shooting, and graduate student center Stormo was 5 of 6 from the field to finish with 14 points and seven rebounds.
The duo was crucial in a game that saw 13 lead changes and six ties, with Stormo scoring the go-ahead basket with 2:00 to play when he slipped into the post, took a feed from McCollum and absorbed contact en route to a 3-point play.
“That was Coach’s call,” Stormo said. “He ran a play for me to get into a ball screen with Javian, and then he told me to slip. Javian threw a great pass, made a good play. It was a good effort.”
Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello
@dgazette McCollum, Stormo help Siena men’s basketball beat St. Bonaventure to regain Franciscan Cup 12/19/22 – More at DailyGazette.com/Sports #Siena #SienaCollege #SienaBasketball ♬ original sound – Daily Gazette
Monday was the second time in a little more than a month that the Saints (6-5 overall, 1-0 MAAC) carried a trophy back to their locker room at MVP Arena, following up on their Albany Cup win against UAlbany on Nov. 12. Throw in the Saints’ wins over Florida State and Seton Hall at the ESPN Events Invitational in Lake Buena Vista, Florida over Thanksgiving weekend, and Siena’s best performances this season have nearly all come when the brightest spotlights have been on the program.
Monday’s win came on the heels of an eight-day break following a frustrating road loss to Delaware, and could provide a template.
“Honestly, we’re just getting better every day,” freshman guard Michael Eley said. “We had a good week of practice, that obviously helps.”
“We were never up by 10 or 15 or 20. It was a roller-coaster game,” senior forward Jordan Kellier said. “So to see the guys hold composure and execute what the coaches drew on the drawing board was something I hope we continue to carry over throughout the rest of the games.”
Kellier didn’t take the floor until there was 9:31 left in the second half. Maciariello inserted the 6-foot-7 forward with the Saints trailing 53-52, hoping he’d provide some extra energy and rebounding after the Bonnies (6-6 overall) had come back from a seven-point deficit on the strength of several second-chance baskets.
With the exception of a three-second cameo from Andrew Platek, the quintet of Kellier, Stormo, McCollum, Eley and Jared Billups played the final 9:31 for the Saints, a lineup that Maciariello said was “something in my gut.”
It paid dividends. Eley hit a pair of key 3-pointers down the stretch, Kellier was a font of energy on both ends of the floor, Billups kept Bonnies leading scorer Daryl Banks III in check, and McCollum and Stormo scored the key baskets that turned a 64-63 deficit into a 68-64 lead with 1:15 to play.
McCollum also made up for a potentially costly turnover in the final minute by drawing a charge on St. Bonaventure’s Yann Farell with 42 seconds left.
“We want to win, and to be able to win we’ve got to make those plays,” McCollum said. “We’ve got to take charges, got to hustle back.”
Siena shut the door on St. Bonaventure with a flourish at the free throw line. The Saints were 23 of 26 at the line on the game, went 16 of 17 in the second half and made 13 straight at the charity stripe to close the game.
With one more non-conference test coming up with Thursday’s 1 p.m. game against American in Washington D.C., the Saints are hopeful they can carry that late-game composure over once MAAC play gets into full swing at the end of the month.
“It’s about staying consistent,” Stormo said. “Not too high, not too low, making sure that we come out here every day and play our asses off, make sure that we execute and outwork teams.”
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