Looking for one last basket, Siena freshman Rich Audu fumbled the ball into the backcourt for a turnover to end the game.
It didn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but was symbolic of the Saints’ 75-55 loss to Manhattan at Draddy Gym on Sunday afternoon.
Looking for one desperately needed win heading into final exams, Siena went in the other direction, instead, and suffered its worst loss of the season, further awakening echos of a 6-24 season in 2004-05.
That’s the last time Siena had a seven-game losing streak, but it has another one now, to fall to 2-9 overall and 0-2 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, with no games on the schedule for the next two weeks.
Rhamel Brown dominated inside for a career high in points with 21 for the Jaspers (1-1, 3-5), and Siena’s Rakeem Brookins also had a career high with 19, while O.D. Anosike had 16 points and 13 rebounds, but was mostly blockaded away from his favorite spot, the offensive glass.
“Rahk and O.D. played great, but after that, there wasn’t much,”
Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro said. “We’ve got to get more contributions from more people.”
Freshman Brett Bisping got his first start, but was scoreless, while the player he replaced, Trenity Burdine, was the only player off the bench to score, with four points.
Difficulty on offense has been a theme all season for Siena, though.
The Saints at least have been stingy on defense, but not this time.
Besides Brown, sophomore RaShawn Stores, who made all four of his three-pointers, and freshman Shane Richards (3-for-7) hurt Siena from deep range as the Jaspers scored 18 points more than their season average, making 45.8 percent of their field goals.
Manhattan did so without George Beamon, the leading scorer in the MAAC last year who is out with an ankle injury.
“They had tremendous pressure, but we weren’t running back to the ball, and we made mistakes,” Brookins said. “Give credit to their pressure, though. They’re a really good press team.”
“I’d much rather have George than not have him, but pieces in this system, you can move them around,” Jaspers head coach Steve Masiello said. “It’s based on conditioning and defensive intensity. Our offense is from our defense, and when we defend well, our offensive numbers are off the charts. When we don’t is when we struggle to score. It’s taken us some time to get in a rhythm and realize how we can make up for not having George. We figured it out tonight.”
Manhattan especially figured that out when it needed to the most, as Siena, trailing by double digits most of the game, clawed its way back within 38-36 with the ball and 15:43 to play.
Rob Poole lost the handle, allowing Michael Alvarado to go in for a layup and start a 20-8 that gave Manhattan a 59-44 lead with 8:31 left.
Richards, averaging 6.0 minutes and 0.9 points per game, hit three threes during that stretch, the first two from the same spot in the left corner.
“When we got it to two, the problem was they scored, put it to four, and then we come down and take a quick shot,” Buonaguro said. “So it’s a combination of youth and the bench.”
“We kept our composure,” the Jaspers’ Emmy Andujar said. “We didn’t have to worry about the offensive end. Every team is going to make a run, but we have a few more bodies than they have. We knew they were going to wear them out.”
“I told them to throw out the first six games, I want everybody to give me the hardest three minutes you have, you’re getting a blow, and we’re going to play musical chairs and wear teams down,” Masiello said. “I thought we did a decent job of that tonight.”
The Saints’ one chance to get back in the game was there, then disappeared just as quickly.
A three by Brookins cut it to 62-50 with 6:48 left, but the Saints mustered only a free throw over the next 3:27.
”We knew about Richards,” Anosike said. “Again, it’s been our problem all year, we’ve been very well prepared, but we have this chronic problem of not carrying the game plan over into the game.
“We’re not able to sustain the effort and discipline for 40 minutes. That’s what happens, we’re in a game for most of the game, they hit a couple threes and we’re out of it.”
Anosike had three offensive rebounds, but Masiello said he was happy with the way the Jaspers took away what Anosike himself calls his “bread-and-butter.”
“He’s going to get his [numbers],” Masiello said. “What you can’t let him do is set up deep. You must have awareness of him and have two bodies with him. We didn’t want him in one-on-one coverage, almost like a great wide receiver. You’re going to have your free safety and your cornerback knowing where he is at all times.”
In the meantime, Brown, averaging 8.7 points per game, was 9-for-12 from the field.
He only had three rebounds, but blocked three shots and was 3-for-3 from the free throw line.
“He’s just a big, strong kid,” Anosike said. “They ran some ball-screen stuff, and he was able to get to the basket.”
“I was able to find openings, gaps in the zone, and my teammates were looking for me after I established early post position,” Brown said. “That got me going early in the game.”
Anosike 7-11 2-7 16, Bisping 0-3 0-0 0, Hymes 2-8 2-4 8, Brookins 7-17 2-4 19, Poole 2-8 3-3 8, Audu 0-1 0-0 0, Burdine 0-2 4-7 4, Oliver 0-1 0-0 0, Leppanen 0-0 0-0 0, Martens 0-0 0-0 0, Silas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-51 13-25 55.
Richards 3-8 0-0 9, Andujar 5-8 0-0 11, Colonette 1-2 0-0 2, Alvarado 2-7 6-6 10, Kates 2-8 3-5 8, Jones 0-6 0-0 0, Brown 9-12 3-3 21, McCoy 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Stores 4-5 0-0 12, Lacey 0-0 0-0 0, Koita 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 27-59 12-14 75.
Halftime: Manhattan 38, Siena 31. Three-point goals: Siena 6-19 (Hymes 2-7, Brookins 3-7, Poole 1-4, Oliver 0-1); Manhattan 9-25 (Richards 3-7, Andujar 1-2, Alvarado 0-3, Kates 1-5, Jones 0-3, Jackson 0-1, Stores 4-4). Rebounds: Siena 36 (Anosike 13); Manhattan 36 (Andujar 7). Assists: Siena 9 (Hymes, Brookins 3); Manhattan 18 (Stores 6). Total fouls: Siena 15; Manhattan 23. Attendance: 1,509.