This Siena game looked like most of the other ones — a Siena loss.
It took on a distinctly different look seven minutes into the second half, though, when head coach Mitch Buonaguro chose to leave star senior forward O.D. Anosike on the bench, and the two had what appeared to be prickly words more than once as the second half progressed.
Eventually, Anosike was escorted to the end of the bench by assistant coach Craig Carter for a conference.
By then, it didn’t have any bearing on the game, as Loyola was well on its way to an utter dismantling of the Saints, 80-57, on Saturday night in front of 6,477 at the Times Union Center.
The Buonaguro-Anosike exchanges did seem to symbolize the frustration of a dismal season, however.
Buonaguro called the benching a non-issue, and Anosike, as he has all season, answered questions in the locker room with his usual poise and calm.
“There was no .. . it was nothing,” Buonaguro said after the Saints fell to 6-21. “Yeah, I think there was a frustration level on his part. He wants to win. I decided to play all the young guys, and I thought they played well, actually, I really did.
“He was alright about coming out. He was probably upset about how things went. But it wasn’t a big deal.”
“I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t play that much in the second half,” said Anosike, Siena’s only senior and its leading scorer and rebounder. “He just felt like he could win the game with other players. He’s the head coach, I have to respect his decision. Actually, the bench guys cut into the lead a little bit.”
Temporarily, they did, but not nearly enough to slow the steamroller performance Loyola exerted on Siena to improve to 11-5 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 19-9 overall.
It was the Saints' worst MAAC home loss ever at the Times Union Center, and the largest margin of defeat in a MAAC home game since they lost to Manhattan, 98-73, at the ARC in 1994.
The deep and experienced Greyhounds, who won the MAAC tournament last year but will move to the Patriot League next year, stayed a half-game behind Niagara for first place.
Dylon Cormier scored 24 points, and Robert Olson, who scored nine points in a span of 2:22 early in the second half to give Loyola a 49-31 lead, had 20. Those two players were a combined 7-for-13 from three-point range.
“That’s the best we’ve shot in a while,” Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos said. “We were making threes, and they weren’t, and I’ve been on the other end of that. Bobby Olson’s been really growing up here. At halftime, I was very worried.”
“He’s [Olson] a problem, and Cormier’s a problem,” Buonaguro said. “Cormier was going by us in the zone. They’re guys who are seniors, they’re veterans, and they play with a tremendous maturity. They had good patience on offense. We held [Erik] Ethier down — he killed us in the first game. This game, it was Cormier and Olson.”
Siena, which fell to 4-12 in the MAAC, trailed by as much as 19 points in the first half, but clawed back within 37-29 at halftime with a 12-2 burst in the final 4:18, five of which were scored by Anosike.
He opened the second half with a tip-in to cut it to 37-31, but Olson got red-hot.
Anosike played the first seven minutes of the second half, but came out of the game, along with Rob Poole, who had another nightmare game on offense, scoring no points in 26 minutes.
At that point, Buonaguro mostly stuck with a lineup that consisted of Imoh Silas, starting in place of injured Rakeem Brookin, point guard Evan Hymes, Trenity Burdine, freshman Rich Audu and little-used Davis Martens, who had his best game of the season, with nine points in 14 minutes.
Anosike passively watched the game with a towel over his shoulders, and had a few clipped exchanges with Buonaguro coming out of timeouts.
In the waning minutes, Anosike and Buonaguro continued to yap at each other, prompting Carter to wrap his arms around Anosike and walk him to the end of the bench, where he huddled with Anosike.
“Burdine scored 12, Silas had nine, Audu made three out of four in the second half . . . they were playing better, actually, than the starters, I thought,” Buonaguro said.
“Every player wants to be out there,” Anosike said. “If I had it my way, I would never come out. I love playing. But, again, I’m not the coach, I’m just a player. I thought the bench guys gave us a lot of
Winbush 2-4 0-0 5, Etherly 4-12 3-6 11, Brooks 5-7 0-2 10, Cormier 6-12 9-10 24, Olson 6-10 4-4 20, Laster 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 2-2 0-0 4, Rassman 0-0 0-0 0, Latham 2-3 0-0 4, Jones 1-1 0-0 2, Hubbard 0-0 0-0 0, Wandrusch 0-1 0-0 0, Onyiuke 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-53 16-22 80.
Anosike 4-10 2-5 10, Burdine 3-6 6-7 12, Silas 3-3 3-3 9, Hymes 2-11 1-3 7, Poole 0-2 0-2 0, Audu 3-4 0-0 8, Hopper 0-3 0-0 0, Leppanen 0-0 0-0 0, Martens 4-5 1-2 9, Bisping 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 19-46 15-24 57.
Halftime: Loyola, 37-29. Three-point goals: Loyola 8-15 (Olson 4-6, Cormier 3-7, Winbush 1-2); Siena 4-13 (Audu 2-2, Hymes 2-6, Bisping 0-1, Burdine 0-1, Hopper 0-1, Poole 0-2). Fouled out: Burdine. Rebounds: Loyola 32 (Etherly 6); Siena 27 (Anosike 7). Assists: Loyola 17 (Winbush 5); Siena 9 (Hymes 5). Total fouls: Loyola 17; Siena 17. Technical fouls: Brooks, Hymes. A: 6,477.