ALBANY — On the eve of
Super Tuesday, Tay Fisher left the speeches to the politicians.
For the first time since Fran McCaffery became Siena’s head coach three seasons ago, Fisher performed neither of his pregame rituals, the motivational speech to his teammates and his camera-snapping paparrazzi pantomime as the starters are introduced.
Instead, he spoke with his jump shot, making four of six three-pointers on Monday to spark the Saints to a 76-72 victory over Marist at the Times Union Center.
Power forward Alex Franklin got his first start in weeks and scored 20 points, including the first 10 for Siena, and Fisher, the only senior on the team, hit three threes in the first 11:10 of the second half as the Saints took control.
After getting blown out by Rider on Saturday, when Fisher’s stat line amounted to two missed threes and a turnover in eight minutes, he scored 15 points in 22 minutes.
“Last game, I sat on the bench and watched us suffer, and it was hard to see,” he said. “I don’t want to do that again. Me and coach had a talk yesterday. The last three games, I haven’t really been bringing the
energy and fearless competitiveness and shooting, so I took that personally. That’s three or four games out of my career that I wasted.”
“To see Tay Fisher come back the way he did tonight was probably the key for us, all due respect to Alexander Franklin,” McCaffery said. “Tay exhibits great leadership on a regular basis, and he pulled the guys together, and wanted to make sure there wasn’t a repeat of Saturday.”
Siena moved into sole possession of second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference at 9-3, and improved to 14-8 overall. The Red Foxes fell to 8-4 and 14-9.
Marist’s Jay Gavin made a three-pointer with 7.7 seconds left to cut it to 76-72, and Ronald Moore missed two free throws with 4.8 second left, but it didn’t cost the Saints, as Gavin missed a heave from just inside halfcourt.
Fisher gave Siena its biggest lead, 63-51, with a three-pointer with 8:50 left.
Every time Marist got within four, the Saints made a play.
Josh Duell, starting just his third game of the season, made two free throws with 2:24 left to make it
70-64, then made a three off a broken play just before the shot clock expired.
Edwin Ubiles went in for a drive, lost the ball and Duell retrieved it about six feet behind the three-point stripe. He turned and swished a jumper just before the buzzer to make it 73-64 with 1:20 left.
“We were trying to run down the clock a little bit,” Duell said. “We didn’t get the play we wanted, and it turned into a little bit of a scramble. I looked back at the clock, and there was about five seconds left when the ball was on the floor. I saw Kenny [Hasbrouck] coming up to get it, but he let me take it, and I turned around and didn’t think, just shot it up in the air, and luckily, it went in.”
The Saints would have been hard-pressed to win without the contributions of Franklin, who has been battling a bad back for a month and a half.
He was one of the few players who had a strong game against Rider, so McCaffery put him back in the starting lineup, and Franklin delivered, making seven of 11 shots and giving the Red Foxes trouble inside.
With his back feeling strong, he scored 10 points in the first 6:11 of the game.
“You know it’s always in the back of your mind, but that was an adjustment I had to make, and right now, I’m trying my best not to think about it and just play ball,” Franklin said.
“When he’s healthy, that’s how he plays,” McCaffery said. “When he’s not on the floor, things are more of a struggle for us. We’re more perimeter-oriented, we don’t get as many rebounds, he blocks shots. He makes the other coach have to worry about what he’s going to do.”
“Alex is one of the more difficult matchups in the league, because he’s so strong and so low to the ground, and he can make shots,” Marist head coach Matt Brady said. “He shoots over bigger guys.”
In the second half, the Saints made five of six threes, when Fisher, who also had four steals, made all three that he attempted.
“I felt there was nothing for me to say,” Fisher said. “Everybody should’ve been motivated. The only thing that matters right now is getting wins and staying focused. I still feel like there’s more to us. I don’t know what it is, but it’s going to happen soon.”
“To beat Siena, you’ve got to defend the three-point line, and we were leading the league until about a week ago,” Brady said. “Now, we’ve been lit up for 53 percent against Rider, and 58 percent tonight.”
The ESPNU BracketBusters schedule-makers have assigned Siena to travel to Boise State for a nationally televised game on Saturday, Feb. 23.
The tip-off time and network will be determined later.
Farmer 1-2 4-4 6, Stilphen 3-7 0-1 7, Benjamin 3-5 0-0 6, Goodwin 2-10 0-0 4, Devezin 6-7 2-2 15, Gavin 4-8 3-4 15, McNamara 2-4 0-0 4, Schneider 4-10 4-5 15. Totals: 25-53 13-16 72.
Duell 2-5 2-3 7, Franklin 7-11 6-8 20, Ubiles 6-13 2-4 15, Moore 1-4 0-2 2, Hasbrouck 2-9 6-9 10, De La Rosa 0-0 0-0 0, Fisher 4-6 2-2 14, Jackson 1-4 2-2 5, Rossiter 1-1 1-2 3, Magee 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-53 21-32 76.
Halftime: Siena 37, Marist 34. Three-point goals: Marist 9-20 (Farmer 0-1, Stilphen 1-1, Goodwin 0-3, Devezin 1-2, Gavin 4-7,
Schneider 3-6); Siena 7-12 (Duell 1-2, Ubiles 1-1, Fisher 4-6, Jackson 1-3). Rebounds: Marist 29 (Schneider 6); Siena 35 (Duell 6). Assists: Marist 12 (Farmer 6); Siena 14 (Moore, Hasbrouck 4). Total fouls: Marist 21; Siena 17. Fouled out: Goodwin. Attendance: 5,697.