Siena’s “cardiac kids” are becoming accustomed to close games.
After three straight contests decided in the final 10 seconds of regulation or overtime, the Saints would love a little more breathing room. But with the Manhattan Jaspers coming in for a 7 p.m. battle tonight at the Times Union Center, the Saints would gladly settle for another nail-biter, as long as they can pull off the upset this time.
Siena, 7-9 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 11-16 overall, beat Fairfield at home (77-75) when the Stags were called for a charging foul on the last play of the game, lost at Marist (65-64) on a three-point basket with three seconds left after the Red Foxes stole the inbounds pass and then lost a chance to pull off the upset against Canisius (92-88) in triple overtime.
“I promised you exciting games when I took over, and I guess I’ve delivered,” said first-year Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos. “There is no doubt that our guys are playing very hard and giving everything they’ve got. It just seems that we’ve been in a lot of close games lately.”
Patsos said that he is not surprised that nearly every game is a challenge, because the league is so tough.
“Every team in the MAAC is good. Fairfield is in last place, and they are a good team,” he said.
Perennial league power Manhattan is once again in the upper tier of the league. The Jaspers are 13-4 in the MAAC and 20-6 overall. They won the first meeting against Siena in Riverdale, 90-68.
“The first time we played them, we were lucky, because they didn’t have George Beamon [20.0 ppg],” said Patsos. “But they have a great 1-2 punch in Beamon and Rhamel Brown. In fact, they’ve got the killer B’s in Beamon and Brown, and they’ve got two very good A’s in [Michael] Alvarado and [Emmy] Andujar.”
Patsos was thrilled when he heard that ticket sales were way up for this game. By the end of the day on Wednesday, more than 6,500 tickets had already been sold.
“I appreciate the fans’ support. They’ve been great all year, and we really need them at home,” he said. “It should be another great game.”
Rob Poole, who scored a career-high 33 points against Canisius, leads Siena in scoring at 15.3 ppg. Brett Bisping is next at 10.2 ppg.
Rich Audu, a sophomore guard, is out for the season because of knee surgery he will have today.