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Siena defenseless in loss to Iona

Siena defenseless in loss to Iona

Siena defenseless in loss to Iona
Marquis Wright brings the ball up Friday for Siena against Iona at Times Union Center.
Photographer: Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter

ALBANY — Winners of five of six games before Friday’s contest, the Siena College men’s basketball team looked like a team that had turned the corner on its season.
Now, the Saints are regrouping again.

“When you think you’ve figured it out,” Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said after his team’s 77-66 loss to Iona, “you’re in big trouble in life and in this game of college basketball.”

“I don’t think the loss is stunning,” Siena redshirt senior Brett Bisping said. “I think the way we lost is what stunned us. It seemed like they were scoring so easily. We’re better than that. We’ve been playing defensively better than that.”

But Iona made Siena look defenseless on its home court at Times Union Center, where the Gaels are officially in the heads of the Saints. Siena senior Marquis Wright admitted as much after Iona’s seventh consecutive win against the Saints at Times Union Center — “Yeah, and we just got to respond to that and we didn’t tonight,” Wright said — and classmate Javion Ogunyemi said Friday’s loss stung extra because of the Saints’ woes on their home floor against Iona.

“It definitely sucks,” Ogunyemi said, “and it definitely hurts.”

And, Iona head coach TimCluess doesn’t really have any answer for why his Gaels are so good on the Saints’ home floor.

“It’s just — I don’t know,” said Cluess, whose team’s win dropped Siena to 6-2 this season at Times Union Center. “We just come to play hard. We love the environment. It’s a great fanbase, a great basketball city, a terrific place to play whether you’re the home team or the visiting team.”

The Gaels entered Friday’s MAAC matchup leading the conference, percentage-wise, in overall shooting, 3-point shooting and foul shooting. Siena (6-5, 9-13) could do little to stop the perimeter-based attack of Iona (7-4, 14-8), which made 10 of 23 3s and led by as many as 21 points in the second half.

Missed defensive assignments, Patsos said, led to open shots for an Iona team that was the aggressor throughout the evening on the floor where it won last season’s MAAC tournament.

“I thought they played with more emotion and heart than we did,” he said.

Patsos later added: “That’s the defending champion. I didn’t think I had to get my team up for Iona, but clearly I did a bad job of that, so I’ll go back to the drawing board.”

While Siena struggled offensively in the first half and only made 13 of 32 shots (40.6 percent), Iona made 18 of 33 (54.5 percent) to build a 44-34 lead. Iona sophomore Rickey McGill scored 16 points in the first half on his way to a game-high 22. McGill ended up making 8 of 14 shots (57.1 percent) for the game, while Iona junior Deyshonee Much made five 3s on his way to 20 points.

Five different Iona players made 3s against the Saints, which struggled to match up with the smaller Gaels.

“It’s a little tough because we kind of play two-and-a-half bigs with Lavon being in and out and they kind of play four guards, so it’s tough to match up,” Ogunyemi said. “When they get you scrambling and they’re hot, they’re a tough team to guard.”

After Bisping scored the first basket in the second half, Iona answered with an 8-0 run. From there, Iona always maintained at least a 10-point lead as Siena struggled to take advantage of its size advantage down low. 

“We wanted to get the ball inside. We wanted to play to our strengths,” Siena senior Lavon Long said. “We didn’t.”
Instead, the Saints shot 3 of 19 from 3-point territory. Ogunyemi and Wright each scored 16 points, while Bisping added 10 points and 14 rebounds. Long, after several strong all-around games, provided five points, four rebounds, four assists and five turnovers.

Siena will look for a better effort Monday at Quinnipiac.

“It all comes down to how we as players [are] playing emotionally,” Bisping said. “That needs to start with our four seniors, me included. I could have definitely brought some more emotion tonight.” 

Crawford 4-11 4-5 13, Bessick 0-2 0-0 0, McGill 8-14 5-5 22, Cassell 4-8 0-0 10, Severe 2-6 0-0 5, Casimir 0-1 0-0 0, Milosavljevic 0-1 0-0 0, Much 7-11 1-1 20, Svandrlik 0-0 0-0 0, Washington 2-5 1-1 5, Williams 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 28-60 11-12 77.
Ogunyemi 6-10 4-7 16, Long 1-5 3-4 5, Bisping 5-14 0-0 10, Wright 6-16 3-8 16, Richard 4-9 0-0 9, Brandwijk 0-0 0-0 0, Huerter 1-1 0-0 2, Smithen 0-2 0-0 0, Merrill 0-0 0-0 0, Shivers 2-4 1-2 6, Fisher 0-1 0-0 0, Friday 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 26-63 11-21 66.
Iona    44 33 — 77
Siena    34 32 — 66

Three-point shooting: Iona 10-23 (Crawford 1-3, McGill 1-2, Cassell 2-6, Severe 1-2, Casimir 0-1, Milosavljevic 0-1, Much 5-8); Siena 3-19 (Long 0-2, Bisping 0-4, Wright 1-6, Richard 1-3, Smithen 0-2, Shivers 1-1, Fisher 0-1. Rebounds: Iona 35 (Much 7); Siena 40 (Bisping 14). Assists: Iona 13 (Cassell 6); Siena 14 (Wright 7). Turnovers: Iona 9 (McGill, Casimir, Washington 2); Siena 10 (Long 5). Total fouls: Iona 18; Siena 15. Fouled out: None. Technicals: None. Attendance: 6,826.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at 395-3109, mkelly@dailygazette.net, or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter. For more coverage of Siena basketball, head to https://dailygazette.com/blogs/the-outlet.

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