Brett Bisping never heard of former Detroit Pistons star Bill Laimbeer before Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos told him earlier this season that he should pattern his game after the tough big man with a soft touch.
Bisping showed off some of the talents that Laimbeer was famous for during a 14-year NBA career by scoring a career-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal to help Siena bounce Rider, 62-47, in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game Saturday night before a crowd of 6,180 at the Times Union Center.
Siena evened its MAAC record at 2-2, 6-9 overall. Rider fell to 3-1 and 7-6.
Bisping, a 6-foot-8, 233-pound sophomore from Peoria, Ill., is not the fastest Saint or the highest leaper, but he got the job done against the Broncs.
He was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and was 7-for-9 from the floor in 31 solid minutes. He also helped center Imoh Silas plug up the middle of the Siena defense, holding the nation’s top three-point shooting team to 27.8 percent from beyond the arc and 27.5 percent from the floor overall.
Rider entered the game averaging 80 points.
“Brett is just like Bill Laimbeer in that he’s long, tough and is a little feisty down there,” said Patsos. “Brett saved us tonight. I told you guys the story of how when I asked him who his favorite player was he said Michael Jordan, but I told him it should be Bill Laimbeer.”
“The first three shots I made, I felt confident,” said Bisping. “I got open for a few shots. Marquis [Wright] hit me with a couple of passes on two of my threes, and he set me up perfectly.”
Wright also fed Bisping for a perfect alley-oop play that resulted in a layup, but Bisping was asked why he didn’t dunk the ball.
“I can dunk it,” he said with a grin. “One of these days, I will.”
Bisping said the Saints were prepared to play tough defense against the Broncs.
“Coach told us to be tough,” he said. “He told us to play hard and have some fun. I thought our guards did a good job of locking up their guards, and Imoh did a good job of defense inside.”
Both teams were frigid from the floor early in the game. Rider missed its first 12 shots, allowing the Saints to run out to an 11-1 lead after a trey by Ryan Oliver.
Eventually, however, the Broncs settled down and eventually grabbed an 18-17 advantage when leading scorer Anthony Myles made one of two free throws with 3:54 left. Myles entered the game averaging 18 points per game. He finished with a game-high 21.
The Saints, who took a 25-23 halftime lead, jumped out to a 32-24 cushion early in the second half, and following a Bisping trifecta, Siena was on top, 35-25.
Rider climbed back to within 37-32 after a Myles free throw, but the Saints clamped down defensively and pounded the ball inside en route to a 47-34 edge. Rob Poole’s layup capped off the Siena surge, and Patsos leaped into the air in celebration.
A three by Wright and two more by Bisping closed the door on the Broncs. Siena was 8-for-15 from beyond the arc, including 5-for-8 in the second half.
Patsos didn’t take the credit for his team’s defensive prowess.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my assistant, Luke D’Allessio,” said Patsos. “We didn’t have a lot of time to scout after the Monmouth game, and Luke told our players about Rider being the top three-point shooting team in the country. He told the guys not to let them make threes.”
Rider coach Kevin Baggett was disappointed in his team’s play, and was impressed by the Saints.
“I thought Siena was really aggressive and that they were tougher,” said Baggett. “They played with a sense of urgency. We’re just playing awful lately. In our last three games, we haven’t played well, even though we won. We’re not playing the right way.
“My post guys can’t score right now, and we’re relying too much on our perimeter guys. These guys [the Saints] played tough, and they ripped the ball right out of our hands.”
Daniel Stewart, a 6-7 senior forward who was averaging 16 ppg, was held to just six points before fouling out.
Poole finished with 12 points, while Wright contributed five assists and three steals.
Stewart 1-7 3-6 6, Fortunat 0-4 2-4 2, Sadler 2-5 2-5 6, Taylor 0-2 0-0 0, Myles 6-13 6-10 21, Thomas 1-5 1-2 3, Lundy 0-0 0-0 0, Channer 1-2 0-0 3, Valentine 1-3 0-0 2, Alford 2-4 0-0 4, Bursis 0-0 0-0 0, Pereira 0-6 0-0 0. Totals: 14-51 14-27 47.
Long 2-3 0-2 4, Bisping 7-9 3-3 20, Silas 3-7 0-1 6, Wright 2-5 0-0 5, Poole 3-11 4-4 12, Ogunyemi 0-0 0-0 0, Oliver 1-2 0-0 3, Hymes 2-5 0-0 5, Cruz 0-0 0-0 0, Wilson 0-0-0 0, White 0-3 2-2 2, Wolfe 1-1 3-3 5. Totals: 21-46 12-17 62.
Halftime: Siena, 25-23. Three-point goals: Rider 5-18 (Stewart 1-2, Sadler 0-2, Taylor 0-1, Myles 3-5, Channer 1-1, Valentine 0-1, Alford 0-1 Pererira 0-5), Siena 8-15 (Bisping 3-3, Wright 1-1, Poole 2-7, Oliver 1-2, Hymes 1-2). Rebounds: Rider 31 (Stewart 5, Myles 5), Siena 40 (Bisping 7, Silas 7). Assists: Rider 8 (Sadler 3), Siena 13 (Wright 5). Total fouls: Rider 18, Siena 20. Fouled out: Stewart. Technical fouls: Siena bench. Attendance: 6,180.