Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos admits that Friday night’s loss at Marist was difficult to swallow.
It reminded him of the same foul taste the Saints experienced in close road losses to La Salle, Purdue and Quinnipiac.
He’d rather dine on something else, but it remains to be seen if he will enjoy today’s meal any better, when the Saints host Canisius at 2 p.m. at the Times Union Center .
“I didn’t get much sleep,” he said late Saturday morning after Siena dropped a 65-64 decision to the Red Foxes in a totally unbelievable finish. “I think I finally got to sleep about 4 a.m. It was definitely one of the toughest losses we’ve had all year.”
Siena had Friday night’s game virtually locked up, but the Red Foxes scored five points in the final seven seconds to hand the Saints a shocking loss that dropped them into a sixth-place tie with Marist in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. If Siena had won, the Saints would have moved into fifth place. Only the top five teams receive byes in the opening round of the MAAC tournament.
Siena had a four-point cushion with seven seconds left, but Chavaughn Lewis scored on a layup to pull the Red Foxes within a basket with about three seconds left.
Brett Bisping inbounded the ball, but it was stolen by Jay Bowie, who nailed the game-winning three-pointer from the corner to stun the Saints.
“We play against pressing defenses all the time,” Patsos said about the final inbounds pass. “Maybe the pass was a little rushed, but we were prepared for their defense.”
Patsos said the Saints still had enough time to get off a decent shot, even after Bowie’s key three-pointer, but the Saints didn’t execute their “Valpo” offense, named after Valparaiso University in Indiana.
“We have definitely lost some key, close games on the road, like at Purdue, La Salle and Quinnipiac, and [Friday night’s] game is right with them,” Patsos said. “But we also won close games at Cornell and Niagara. [Friday night’s] game was kind of weird. We played very well, but we lost, and that will happen in the game of basketball. It happens all the time. But we didn’t make the right plays down the stretch.”
Patsos said one of his few regrets is that his youthful Saints don’t always do in games what they work on in practice.
“There are too many guys trying to be a hero at the end of games. I’m tired of all the heroes,” he said.
“Do our players realize how close they are to having won four more games than we’ve won? I’d like to see the guys execute what we’ve been working on in practice at the end of games.”
But in the end, Patsos said the loss to Marist was only one game, and it’s time to move on.
“We still played very well in that game. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” he said.
“Now, we’ve got to worry about Billy Baron [24.9 ppg] and Canisius. They are a very good team. The good thing is that we always play well at home, and I expect to play well in our next game. Our fans have been very supportive of us. They even came down to Marist with a bus, and they were very vocal.”
One of the bright spots Friday night was the play of freshman point guard Marquis Wright, who scored a career-high 20 points. He has averaged 11.6 points and shot 51 percent from the floor over his last 10 games. He leads the MAAC in assists (5.3 per game).
Fellow freshman Lavon Long has scored in double figures in six of his last eight games and recorded his second double-double of the season against Marist with 13 points and 11 rebounds.