“Here he comes!” Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey screamed from the sideline.
There he went.
Edwin Ubiles knifed along the baseline behind the Broncs’ zone defense, caught Ronald Moore’s alley-oop pass and ripped it through the net to give Siena a 76-70 lead with 6:09 left.
Rider stayed with Siena for most of the night, but in the end, the Saints’ offense stayed on its current roll and ran the Broncs off the court, 91-81, Friday night at the Times Union Center.
In a rematch of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game won by Siena last year, the Saints improved to 5-0 in the MAAC and 11-5 overall, and handed Rider (3-1, 8-6) its first conference loss.
Siena totaled 20 assists, led by Moore with eight, and put five players in double-figure scoring, led by Ubiles with 19 and Kenny Hasbrouck with 18, 16 of which came in the second half. The Saints were 35-for-67 (52.2 percent) from the field.
“Our rhythm, our chemistry is going great,” Hasbrouck said. “I’m making shots, Ron is picking and choosing. If you get the ball to him, he’s making the right choices pretty much every time.”
It was still a six-point game,
85-79, with 2:49 left, after Rider’s Harris Mansell made a three-pointer, but Siena switched into highlight gear.
Deep into the following possession, Moore (13 points, six rebounds) used a crossover, behind-the-back dribble to free himself for a jumper from the left elbow, and after Mike Ringgold stepped on the baseline for a Rider turnover, Hasbrouck heaved the inbounds three-quarters of the length of the court to Alex Franklin for a breakaway dunk and an 89-79 lead with 39 seconds left.
A steal by Moore led to another breakway that Ubiles finished with a 360-degree dunk that drew a roar from the already biosterous crowd of 6,656.
“That’s one of my go-to dunks,” Ubiles said with a grin. “I just wanted to make sure I made it.”
His previous dunk had a bigger impact on the game.
Siena led at halftime, 41-40, then pushed it to 13, 64-51, with 13:47 to play, but the Broncs gnawed away at the lead and got within 74-70 on a hanging one-hander by Ryan Thompson with 6:54 left.
By then, the Saints were beginning to wear down the younger Broncs, who got some promising play from 6-foot-7 freshman Novar
Gadson (14 points, nine rebounds).
Rider went to a zone, Siena tested it for a few possessions, then Siena head coach Fran McCaffery called for the alley oop to Ubiles.
The Rider coaches saw it coming all the way and tried to yell it out to their team, but Ubiles had a clean run to the rim for the dunk, leaving Ringgold to turn to the bench with his palms up.
“It’s hard in an arena that’s loud,” Dempsey said. “We knew they were running a little special play and the lob, and we were trying to scream. They couldn’t hear us, and at that point I think they were a little fatigued.”
“I think coach was kind of waiting for them to go to a little bit of zone because of all the scoring we were doing, and he called the play,” Ubiles said. “They executed it well and got me open on the baseline for Ron to put it up there. He knows once I get that little bit of space, I’m going to go get it. We tried not to tip the play off.”
“That’s a play we haven’t run in a long time, and they definitely weren’t aware of it and didn’t see it coming,” Moore said. “It was an energy booster and a way to get the crowd involved, but it’s also two points, and I thought it was a turnaround point in the game. I know if I get it up there, Eddie’s going to go get it.”
After an entertaining first half that featured nine ties overall and five lead changes in the last 5:34, Hasbrouck came out smoking hot in the second half, making three threes in the first 3:56.
“What you’re seeing is the Kenny Hasbrouck who mixes his game, his inside-outside game,” McCaffery said. “He’s making threes, he’s driving the ball. You’re seeing him be more like himself.”
Ubiles scored six straight points on a pullup, a tough baseline drive and two free throws to make it
Harris Mansell (19 points) was cold early, but started making shots in the second half. His free throws made it 80-74 with 3:57 left.
Hasbrouck answered with a drive, Mansell made a runner, and Hasbrouck hit a three for an
85-76 lead. Mansell came right back with a three, but that was it for the Broncs, as Moore followed with his big jumper to make it 87-79.
Ringgold 8-13 0-4 16, J. Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Thompson 7-12 0-0 16, Robinson 4-11 2-2 11, H. Mansell 7-18 2-3 19, Griffin 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 1-2 0-0 3, Penn 1-2 0-0 2, Gadson 6-14 2-2 14. Totals; 34-74 6-11 81.
Rossiter 3-6 0-0 6, Franklin 7-8 1-2 15, Ubiles 7-12 5-5 19, Moore 5-11 2-2 13, Hasbrouck 6-14 2-3 18, Downey 4-8 3-4 11, C. Jackson 2-6 0-0 5, Wignot 1-2 0-0 2, Priestley 0-0 2-2 2. Totals: 35-67 15-18 91.
Halftime: Siena 41, Rider 40. Three-point goals: Rider 7-22 (Thompson 2-2, Robinson 1-2, H. Mansell 3-11, Griffin 0-1, Johnson 1-2, Gadson 0-4); Siena 6-22 (Ubiles 0-1, Moore 1-5, Hasbrouck 4-9, Downey 0-3, C. Jackson 1-4). Rebounds: Rider 36 (Ringgold 10); Siena 38 (Franklin 10). Assists: Rider 13 (Thompson 6); Siena 20 (Moore 8). Total fouls: Rider 15; Siena 12. Technical foul: Gadson. Attendance: 6,656.