Playing its first triple overtime game in nine years, Siena was primed to shake off last Friday’s stunning defeat at Marist and upset one of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s best teams.
But an exhausted Billy Baron wouldn’t hear of it.
The nation’s fourth-leading scorer (24.0 ppg) poured in 40 points, including what turned out to be the game-winning three-point play with 45.5 seconds left, to spark Canisius to a thrilling 92-88 victory over the Saints Sunday afternoon at the Times Union Center.
Baron, who plays for his father/coach Jim Baron, also had a tough game on Friday night, as the Golden Griffins beat their archrival Niagara and then had a six-hour bus ride to Albany to take on the Saints. But he played all 55 minutes of Siena’s first triple- overtime contest since the Saints lost to Youngstown State, 79-78, in four OTs on Dec. 14, 2004.
“The start of the game was tough. I was [struggling] a little but, but I got my second wind,” said Baron, who also grabbed 10 rebounds and recorded five assists. “We played at 9 p.m. on Friday, and then we got on a bus here. We knew we were 3-26 here against them, so it was a big game for us.”
The setback overshadowed a brilliant performance by Siena junior guard Rob Poole, who shook off a recent shooting slump to score a career-high 33 points. It was his three-point play on a spinning layup and bonus free throw that gave the Saints an 88-87 lead with 56 seconds left.
But after Baron’s heroics, the Saints worked the clock against the Canisius zone defense, and Poole was forced to put up an off-balance three-pointer that hit the front of the rim with 10 seconds left. Baron was quickly fouled after grabbing the rebound, and he iced the win with two more free throws with 6.1 seconds left. Baron sank 18 out of 19 free-throw attempts.
“I think the guys were tired,” said Poole about the Saints’ failure to get off a good shot at the end of the game. “I think we were all looking for someone else to make a play. I had to put up a tough shot at the end.”
Siena (7-9 MAAC, 11-16 overall) escaped a loss in regulation when Baron misfired on a three-pointer at the buzzer, and the teams, tied at 68-68, advanced into the first OT.
“That was a great game,” said Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos. “It sucks when you lose a game like that, but that was just a great game. We made some plays, but then they [the Golden Griffins] made some plays, and we didn’t. The toughest part of this game is to make the congregation really believe in you.
Perez 7-11 9-10 25, Jor. Heath 3-6 5-7 11, Lewis 1-9 0-0 2, Baron 10-24 18-19 40, Valenti 0-2 1-2 1, Bleecker 2-3 0-1 5, Raney 2-3 0-1 4, Jos. Heath 2-3 0-1 4. Totals: 27-61 33-41 92.
Long 2-6 4-6 8, Bisping 5-9 6-9 16, Silas 1-3 0-0 2, Wright 3-10 4-7 10, Poole 11-18 5-7 33, Ogunyemi 0-1 2-2 2, Oliver 5-14 0-0 12, Hymes 1-5 0-0 3, White 1-1 0-0 2, Wolfe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 29-67 21-31 88.
Halftime: Siena, 32-27. Regulation: Tied 68-68. First OT: Tied 73-73. Second OT: Tied 80-80. Three-point goals: Canisius 5-25 (Perez 2-4, Jor. Heath 0-2, Lewis 0-6, Baron 2-12, Bleecker 1-1); Siena 9-27 (Bisping 0-1, Wright 0-2, Poole 6-11, Oliver 2-10, Hymes 1-3). Rebounds: Canisius 32 (Baron 10), Siena 40 (Bisping 9). Assists: Canisius 12 (Baron 5), Siena 18 (Wright 11). Total fouls: Canisius 23, Siena 29. Fouled out: Jor. Heath, Jos. Heath, Silas, Long. Attendance: 6,248.