Siena’s extremely athletic post players were too much for the University at Albany to handle in the annual Albany Cup Monday night at Times Union Center.
OD Anosike, a 6-foot-8 junior, scored 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, while Brandon Walters, a 6-8 senior, chipped in with 10 points and 11 rebounds as the Saints dominated the paint in a 64-60 victory over the Great Danes before an enthusiastic crowd of 8,252, the smallest in the last 10 years of this matchup between local rivals.
Siena trailed by 19 points
(31-12) in the first half, but the Saints climbed to within eight at intermission and then took control early in the second half. UAlbany couldn’t buy a basket in the second half, and Siena, which shot just 34.3 percent in the final 20 minutes, used numerous second-chance opportunities on offensive rebounds to frustrate the cold-shooting Great Danes.
Siena leads the all-time series, 32-19, including nine wins in 11 games since the rivalry was renewed in 2001.
“That’s as good a win as there’s been since I’ve been head coach here,” said Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro. “This shows the resolve of this team. I liked our resiliency. The guys are buying into our defense, and our two inside guys dominated theirs. This might have been OD’s best game ever.”
Siena scored 30 points in the paint and got 20 second-chance points. The Saints outrebounded the Great Danes, 46-35.
“We were more athletic inside,” said Buonaguro. “This was a game we needed. Our guys have been through a lot, with all of our injuries and the five losses in a row. Our kids proved everyone wrong. We won a game we had to win.”
After a 7-2 Siena start, the Great Danes appeared ready to run the Saints out of the arena with a 29-5 run that gave them a 31-12 cushion with 5:30 left in the first half.
UAlbany junior point guard Mike Black scored 11 points in the run, while fellow junior guard Logan Aronhalt added four.
But an 11-0 Siena spurt steadied the ship for the Saints, and they chipped their deficit down to a manageable eight points at the half when Evan Hymes nailed back-to-back three-pointers in the final minute. Hymes’ second trey banked off the backboard, one of several Siena three-pointers that got help from the glass. Hymes scored 19 of his 21 points in the first half.
“I made a concerted effort to tell Evan to run the team in the second half,” said Buonaguro. “He kept us in the game in the first half.”
“Hymes carried them in the first half,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown.
But the game turned Siena’s way when the Saints began to dominate the paint and the glass. Many of Anosike’s points came on offensive rebounds and on dunks.
“It’s up there with some of my top performances. I’m just happy that I was able to do it in this kind of setting, against UAlbany,” said Anosike. “The dunks are always good. It gets the crowd into it. It gets the bench into it, and it gets me into it. It can be a game-changer, and I think that’s what it was tonight.
“Obviously, this was a game we really needed to win after losing to them last year and then losing the last five games in a row. I understand why coach was celebrating so much after the game.”
“Our inside players really took over the game,” said Buonaguro. “Anosike scored the ball tonight. He’s played very well over the last four games, and Walter’s rebounding was phenomenal. Those two guys took the game over.”
“I thought Siena did a great job in the second half,” said Brown, whose Great Danes drop to 4-4. “They played like a desperate team that needed a win. I’m disappointed because I thought we had an opportunity to put the game away in the first half. Those three three-point blank shots didn’t help us. In the second half, they dominated us on the glass, and we couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean. I thought we played really tight in the last 10 minutes of the game. We played like we were afraid to lose, and OD killed us on the glass.”
Siena outscored the Great Danes, 21-7, in the first 10 minutes to take a 50-46 lead on a Walters put-back shot, and then the Saints enjoyed even more momentum when Black was whistled for a flagrant foul |after swinging his elbows at Kyle Downey in order to escape a trap.
“It was just a passion thing. No big deal,” said Black.
Siena (3-5) led by as many as seven three times, at 55-48, 57-50 and 64-57. The Great Danes cut their deficit to 60-57 when Blake Metcalf converted a missed free throw into a put-back basket, but Hymes scored his only two points of the second half on a pair of free throws with 20.7 seconds left to push Siena’s lead to 62-57. Downey nailed two more free throws with 11.9 seconds on the block.
Aronhalt hit a trey with 3.8 seconds left for the final score.
“We were playing aggressively in the first half, but their pressure got to us in the second half,” said Black, who led UAlbany with 18 points. “They’ve got some pretty big guys, and they really hurt us on the boards.”
Aronhalt and Jayson Guerrier scored 13 points each for UAlbany, while leading scorer Gerardo Suero (21.0 ppg) was held to just 12.
Siena plays UMass at the MassMutual Center in Springfield on Friday, while the Great Danes host Colgate Wednesday night.
Siena sophomore small forward Tenity Burdine, out all season with a foot injury, was in uniform but did not warm up or play. A projected starter, he’s projected to return after Christmas.
Suero 5-14 2-2 12, Metcalf 1-3 0-0 2, Aronhalt 6-15 0-1 13, Black 6-14 2-2 18, Devlin 0-4 0-0 0, Gibson 0-0 0-0 0, Watts 1-6 0-0 2, Guerrier 5-8 0-0 13, Puk 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-64 4-5 60.
Anosike 9-19 3-7 21, Wignot 0-3 0-0 0, Walters 4-9 2-4 10, Downey 2-9 4-4 9, Hymes 7-14 2-2 21, Hopper 0-0 0-0 0, Beard 0- 0-0 0, Poole 1-7 0-0 3. Totals: 23-62 11-17 64.
Halftime: UAlbany 37-29. Three-point goals: UAlbany 8-22 (Suero 0-1, Aronhalt 1-6, Black 4-7, Devlin 0-2, Watts 0-1, Guerrier 3-5), Siena 7-18 (Wignot 0-2, Downey 1-3, Hymes 5-6, Poole 1-7). Rebounds: UAlbany 35 (Metcalf 7, Devlin 7), Siena 46 (Anosike 18, Walters 11). Assists: UAlbany 11 (Black 4), Siena 13 (Downey 5). Personal fouls: UAlbany 16, Siena 10. Fouled out: Metcalf. Officials: John Hughes, Wallace Rutecki, John Gafney. Attendance: 8,252.