Tay Fisher had a knot as hard as a rock on an abdominal muscle after the game on Monday afternoon, evidence of a painful cramp.
It couldn’t have hurt nearly as much as the cramp he gave Dartmouth after scoring a career-high 23 points on 6-for-11 shooting from three-point range to boost Siena to a dominating 89-54 victory at the Times Union Center.
It was Siena’s biggest margin of victory since beating Rider, 95-54, on Feb. 1, 2001, and a needed shot of momentum heading into Thursday’s game at No. 2 Memphis.
Fisher had 15 at halftime, including back-to-back threes to give the Saints (7-4) a 16-2 lead, and a four-point play to make it 37-16 with 4:58 left.
“Tay was hot. Six-for-11? Wow,” freshman Clarence Jackson said. “Every time he shot the ball, I knew it was going in. He’s been shooting like that all year.”
“He’s a weapon,” Siena head coach Fran McCaffery said. “He’s a guy that the other team has to talk about all week. He’s a player who, when he comes in, they have to deal with him. ‘OK, what’re we going to do with him? Are we going to chase him, are we going to switch on him, are we going to faceguard him?’ You cannot treat him like anyone else on the floor, and that enables Kenny [Hasbrouck] and Ronald [Moore] and Eddie [Ubiles] to have space to drive the ball, and then when he starts hitting like that, everything just gets easier for everyone else.”
The Big Green (5-7) tried to keep Fisher from getting the ball, but that didn’t work very well, and when he got it, he shot it.
His long three with one second left on the shot clock after a ragged possession started a 12-2 run that made it 37-16.
Jackson and and fellow freshman Ryan Rossiter, who got his first
career start in place of Cory Magee, also made baskets in the run.
McCaffery was disappointed in the Saints’ defense in the closing minutes of the half, and let them know about it at halftime, and
Siena put the game away early in the second half.
Fisher took the first pass of the half and cranked up another three, and he made another from the left corner off a spectacular no-look pass from Moore on the break to give Siena a 64-39 lead with 13:03 left.
“It’s been like that this whole year,” Fisher said. “I’m just trying to stay as consistent as possible, because I know the team really needs me, and this is my last go-around. I take a lot more shots in practice, coach goes to me, the only thing I’ve got to do is knock it down.”
Fisher, the only senior on the roster, started in place of Alex Franklin, still out with a back injury.
His previous best scoring game was 21 points against New Jersey Institute of Technology almost a year ago. Fisher had four rebounds, three assists and four steals.
He has made 24 of 50 three-pointers this season.
“The gameplan was to try to deny him as many looks as we possibly could, and we weren’t successful at that,” Dartmouth coach Terry Dunn said. “He had one of those days where, ‘If you don’t guard me, I’m just going to knock down every shot I have the opportunity to shoot.’ ”
“Wow. You look at the stats and see 23 points, but, I mean, I’m looking at four steals,” McCaffery said. “You talk about energy level, the whole game he got his hands on balls and was diving on the floor. He gets four rebounds, he’s on fire. It’s great for him, because he’s such a character person, to have a chance to start again and be out there and miss a couple of shots and keep playing, he certainly deserves that, and we needed that from him today.”
Rossiter had 10 rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot, and Jackson, who missed the first five games of the season with a sprained ankle, scored 12 points in 18 minutes.
McCaffery was also able to get 17 minutes out of freshman point guard Chris De La Rosa, who hasn’t been playing much lately, and got little-used Steven Priestley, James Carr and Erik Harris some action.
“Coach told me the other day that I’d be starting, so it wasn’t unexpected, but it was a great feeling just to go out and start,” Rossiter said. “You try to treat it like any other game. I try to do my role whether it’s off the bench or starting.
“I did alright. It wasn’t my day shooting, but I tried to make up for it in other categories.”
“Every day. I’m learning and trying to get better as a player,” Jackson said. “Coach was telling me I was getting good shots and not to force anything, and I was able to play and just shoot my shot.”
“For Clarence, it’s another step,” McCaffery said. “I’m very happy with him. His practices the last two or three days have been absolutely phenomenal. I think you’ll see him continue to even get better.”
The Saints led, 18-2, before Johnathan Ball scored six straight for Dartmouth, but Siena
answered with six straight, including a drive and a layup by Jackson.
Barnett 6-16 0-0 12, Ball 7-10 1-2 15, Fitzgerald 1-4 0-0 2, Sanders 4-8 3-6 12, Mosley 1-11 0-0 2, Dixon 3-6 0-0 6, Pride 1-6 0-0 2, Giovacchini 0-1 0-0 0, Graeber 0-2 1-2 1, Weeden 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 24-65 5-10 54.
Rossiter 2-9 0-1 4, Ubiles 5-8 2-2 13, Fisher 7-13 3-3 23, Moore 4-6 1-2 9, Hasbrouck 4-7 2-4 10, De La Rosa 0-0 4-4 4, Duell 1-3 1-1 3, Jackson 5-11 1-1 12, Carr 1-1 0-2 2, Magee 0-2 4-4 4, Harris 0-3 0-0 0, Priestley 2-3 1-2 5. Totals: 31-66 19-26 89.
Halftime: Siena 45, Dartmouth 26. Three-point goals: Dartmouth 1-13 (Barnett 0-1, Sanders 1-2, Mosley 0-5, Dixon 0-2, Pride 0-3); Siena 8-13 (Ubiles 1-1, Fisher 6-11, Jackson 1-1). Rebounds: Dartmouth 39 (Barnett 10); Siena 43 (Rossiter 10). Assists: Dartmouth 17 (Sanders, Dixon 4); Siena 18 (Moore, De La Rosa 4). Total fouls: Dartmouth 21; Siena 10. Attendance: 4,497.