ALBANY — No post-game handshakes, no problem.
Siena College men’s basketball head coach Jimmy Patsos just did them on his own, anyway.
As the clock ran out on Siena’s 78-68 MAAC victory Tuesday against Rider minutes after a late-game physical altercation between the teams, Broncs head coach Kevin Baggett and his team walked off the Times Union Center court without waiting to shake hands with the Saints — a move former Siena head coach Fran McCaffery twice used during his time with the Saints, and again this year as the Iowa coach.
So, instead, Patsos walked the sideline Tuesday and gave imaginary handshakes to where the right hands of the Rider players and coaches would have been if they had stayed. A minute later, Patsos walked through the tunnel back toward the Siena locker room, pumping his arms as Siena fans cheered his exit.
A late-game scuffle which ended with four technicals being handed out and ejections to Rider junior Anthony Durham and Siena senior Marquis Wright could have consequences down the road for the Saints, but that thought did little to take away from the momentum Siena now feels it has as it heads into Thursday’s game at Saint Peter’s.
The Saints are on a four-game winning streak. They finally won on the road the other day, too. Days after it was announced sophomore Nico Clareth was taking a leave of absence from the team, the Saints played Tuesday with an intensity befitting what Patsos — and Siena’s fanbase — wants to see.
“My point is, as long as you care, then I care,” said Patsos, whose team received a career-high 29 points from senior Lavon Long in the win. “I don’t want to coach some place where no one cares. I could do that easy. I know where those jobs are. I came here because [the fans] care a lot and sometimes when things are going bad, that’s OK. Indifference is the death I don’t want.”
The late-game incident involving the teams started after Rider graduate student Norville Carey fouled Siena senior Javion Ogunyemi on a dunk attempt with 2:03 to play.
“I thought it was a clean basketball play,” Ogunyemi said of the initial foul. “You know, I probably would have done the same thing to try not to get dunked on.”
From there, the two teams came together, and Wright appeared to shove a Rider player, and Durham hit Wright in the face. Before the two teams were fully separated, Rider’s Baggett made his way down to the Siena end of the court and had words with Patsos.
In the end, technical fouls were assessed to both coaches, Rider freshman Stevie Jordan and Siena freshman Khalil Richard. Durham and Wright were both ejected after receiving flagrant 2 fouls for their involvement.
“Things got out of hand the last couple minutes,” Patsos said. “Thank God nobody got hurt.”
Ogunyemi said he could not see what happened in the scrum after he was fouled — but he was fine with it.
“Honestly,” Ogunyemi said, “it’s probably not the best thing to say, but I think we needed something like what happened in the game today. It shows we’re a different team. We’re tougher.”
“Everyone’s just trying to defend their team,” Long added. “So, you know, we’re just coming together.”
Siena (5-3, 8-11) did not make Wright available for postgame comment, while Baggett of Rider (4-4, 11-8) left the building before he could be interviewed. A Siena spokesperson said a league review will determine if any suspensions are handed out from the late-game incident.
The Broncs got off to an 11-2 start and led for nearly all of the first half. Rider went into halftime ahead 45-40 despite 16 points and six rebounds in the opening 20 minutes from Long. At one point, Long scored 10 consecutive points for Siena.
Rider senior Kahlil Thomas was the answer to Long in the first half. Thomas scored 15 of his team-high 20 points before intermission.
After Long scored the final basket of the first half, he also scored the first five points of the second half. Starting with Long’s first-half-ending basket, the Saints put together a 25-4 run across 10:04 of action to take control of the game. Siena led by at least seven points for the final 12:05 of the contest.
Besides his career-high 29 points, Long added a team-best 12 rebounds. Ogunyemi and Wright each added a dozen points, while redshirt senior forward Brett Bisping had 11.
Patsos said he had not seen footage of the scuffle involving the teams and had little to say about any potential discipline coming Wright’s way.
“To me, it’s just old-fashioned tough basketball. MAAC game,” he said. “Let’s go to the next one."
Thomas 9-18 2-5 20, Lundy 1-4 0-0 3, Carey 5-8 1-2 11, Taylor 3-12 3-4 12, Jordan 5-12 0-0 11, Washington-Ives 0-3 0-0 0, Durham 3-9 2-2 9, Marshall 0-2 2-2 2. Totals: 26-68 10-15 68.
Ogunyemi 3-5 6-8 12, Long 8-12 10-12 29, Bisping 4-9 0-0 11, Wright 4-11 1-2 12, Smithen 2-3 0-0 4, Richard 1-2 0-0 2 Shivers 0-2 3-4 3 Fisher 1-2 2-2 5, Friday 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-46 22-28 78.
Rider 45 23 — 68
Three-point shooting: Rider 6-18 (Lundy 1-4, Taylor 3-6, Jordan 1-5, Washington-Ives 0-1, Durham 1-2); Siena 10-19 (Long 3-4, Bisping 3-6, Wright 3-6, Shivers 0-1, Fisher 1-2). Rebounds: Rider 35 (Thomas 9); Siena 37 (Long 12). Assists: Rider 13 (Jordan 11); Siena 12 (Bisping, Wright 3). Turnovers: Rider 8 (Jordan, Durham 2); Siena 14 (Bisping, Wright 4). Total fouls: Rider 26, Siena 19. Fouled out: Marshall, Bisping. Technicals: Jordan, Baggett, Richard, Patsos. Ejections: Durham, Wright. Attendance: 4,788.