Five-foot-eight Evan Hymes took only five shots and scored just five points against the first Big Ten opponent Siena has ever hosted in the Times Union Center.
But the junior guard made the key play of the game with a driving layup with 3.9 seconds left to lift the Saints past Penn State, 54-52, Monday in the Collegiate Basketball Invitational quarterfinals before a crowd of 3,598.
The 17-17 Saints, who are 12-4 at home and have won six of their last seven, will advance to the semifinals Wednesday against an opponent to be announced at a time and site to be determined. The teams are reseeded after the first two rounds.
Freshman swingman Lavon Long, who scored a career-high 17 points, staked the Saints to a 52-50 lead with 18.6 remaining when he was picked by Penn State to shoot a pair of free throws after Marquis Wright was fouled, but was too shaken up to go to the line. Long made one of two.
Penn State (16-18) took possession and D.J. Newbill missed a jumper, but Brandon Taylor grabbed the rebound and scored on a put-back with 9.3 seconds on the clock.
Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos immediately called a timeout to set up the winning play.
“Greg Manning drew up that last play,” said Patsos. “It was supposed to be a fake to [Rob] Poole, and then Evan was supposed to go to the basket. It’s tough for little guys to get to the rim against the Big 10, but he did.”
“Coach Jimmy and coach Greg drew up the play. I was supposed to fake it to Robby and then go,” said Hymes. “Coach told me that I’m more efficient when I go hard right, and that’s what I did. It feels great to beat a Big Ten team here.”
Penn State had a chance to pull off a last-second shot, but after Newbill took the inbounds pass from John Johnson, Newbill stepped out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left. Long inbounded to Ryan Oliver, who was immediately fouled. He missed both free throws, but it didn’t matter.
“Today, we did a lot of things that were grindy,” said Patsos. “Poole hit some big shots, and that’s why we recruited Lavon. He’s a funny matchup. Lavon Long is the difference, because he’s an unusual three-man.”
“I noticed that they were having a tough time matching up against me in the second half,” said Long. “This definitely feels good to beat this team here.”
Brett Bisping contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Poole finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
“Penn State is a really good team from the Big Ten, but we’ve learned a lot this year,” said Poole. “In the beginning of the season, we might have lost this kind of game, but now, we have a lot of guys who can step up and make the big plays.”
“They made all the plays down the stretch, and they got contributions from a lot of people,” said Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers. “We make six three-pointers and forced 16 turnovers, yet we still lost. It’s disappointing. But we also made some costly turnovers at pivotal points of the game.
“Jimmy is a first-year coach with a young team. This will only help speed up the progress of this team. They will be a very good team in their league next year.”
Patsos said he feels the Saints were carrying the banner of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference as the only team left standing in postseason.
“This is what the postseason is all about, and the MAAC helped us prepare for this,” Patsos said, adding that he was able to postpone his first yoga class at least a few more days, and will instead eat a burger. “We play tough teams all the time. We’re not afraid to play teams. Beating a Big Ten team was very important for us.”
PENN STATE (52)
Taylor 3-8 1- 8, Dickerson 1-3 0-0 2, Johnson 1-8 0-0 3, Newbill 5-18 6-8 17, Frazier 1-5 2-4 5, Woodward 2-4 0-0 5, Jack 2-4 1-4 5, Thorpe 2-4 0-0 5, Travis 0-3 2-4 2. Totals: 17-57 12-22 52.
Long 5-11 7-10 17, Bisping 6-13 0-0 12, Silas 0-1 0-0 0, Wright 3-6 0-0 6, Poole 4-12 0-0 11, Ogunyemi 0-0 0-0 0, Oliver 1-4 0-2 3, Hymes 2-5 0-1 5, White 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-52 7-13 54.
Halftime: Siena, 25-21. Three-point goals: Penn State 6-17 (Taylor 1-2, Johnson 1-2, Newbill 1-7, Frazier 1-2, Woodward 1-3, Thorpe 1-1); Siena 5-13 (Poole 3-8, Oliver 1-3, Hymes 1-2). Rebounds: Penn State 36 (Taylor 8), Siena 40 (Bisping 12). Assists: Penn State 9 (Frazier 3), Siena 11 (Wright 3, Oliver 3). Total fouls: Penn State 20, Siena 18. Attendance: 3,598.