ALBANY — The team’s record stands where it stands.
But Siena College men’s basketball head coach Jimmy Patsos doesn’t expect it to affect the Saints’ effort level during the final month of the MAAC season.
“Siena players have character,” Patsos said.
Monday at Times Union Center, the Saints showed that. With Iona in town, Siena broke the Gaels’ eight-game winning streak on its home court with an 82-78 overtime win. Siena sophomore Khalil Richard scored a career-high 22 points, while junior Evan Fisher matched his career-high with 21 — and 10 of those came in the extra session.
Fisher started the overtime with back-to-back 3-pointers to put Siena in control.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games and I’ve had some regrets [about] maybe not taking enough shots,” said Fisher, whose team has a .500 record in its 10 games this season decided by four points or fewer.
In overtime, Siena made 5 of 6 field goals and 4 of 6 free throws. The Saints never trailed in the extra period.
“They didn’t miss. That’s all,” said Iona head coach Tim Cluess, whose program has defeated Siena in the last three MAAC tournaments, including in overtime in last year’s championship game. “We tried a couple different things defensively. They made us pay a couple times late in the shot clock. A couple times, they just were taller than the guy guarding them and they made the plays.”
Iona — which beat Siena 71-69 in January — played without senior Deyshonee Much for the second consecutive game. Much had to be restrained on the court from Cluess following the Gaels’ loss last week to Monmouth. Much is averaging 11.9 points per game this season.
Without Much, Iona was led against Siena by fifth-year senior Rolan Griffin’s 21 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore E.J. Crawford added 15 points.
Siena (4-10, 8-19) trailed Iona (10-5, 16-11) for much of the second half after going into halftime down 36-33, but always stayed within a two-possession margin of the Gaels. The Saints finally caught — and went ahead of — the Gaels on a jumper from Richard with 3:26 to go in regulation, but Siena still needed another big shot and a stop to force overtime. Freshman Jordan Horn made a short jumper in the final minute to tie the game at 66, and the Saints stopped Iona on its final possession of regulation.
“Gutty effort,” Patsos said.
Then, Siena made its first five shots in overtime on its way to victory.
“We fought the whole regulation and through overtime,” said Horn, who finished with 18 points.
The victory delayed the arrival of a 20-loss season for Siena, which last had a 20-loss season in 2014-15.
Siena freshman Prince Oduro, though, said there’s no quit in the Saints.
“We’re just trying our hardest to fight, to keep fighting, to not give up,” said Oduro, who finished with a dozen points and six rebounds.
“We’ve had some tough luck. That’s OK,” Patsos said. “Luck, you know, there’s an old saying [that] the harder I work, the luckier I got. So we just kept working.”
Redshirt junior Kadeem Smithen led Siena in rebounds and assists with 10 and six, respectively. The 6-foot-3 guard said Patsos’ message heading into Monday’s game was a simple one.
“He was stressing unity and I think we showed that,” Smithen said.
Siena has won four of its last five home games, but is 1-13 on the road.
“We’ve got to get a road win,” Patsos said. “Our road record is embarrassing, but, the good news is, we’ve got another chance to get one.”
The bad news? That chance comes Thursday at Rider, which is tied for first place in the MAAC — but Siena heads into that one with some momentum after one of its best efforts of the season. The Saints won Monday’s rebounding battle 40-34, registered assists on 17 of 31 baskets and scored their most points since mid-December.
“It’s going to help us, but we’re taking it one game at a time,” Smithen said of Monday’s performance. “Now we prepare for Rider. The next game is the biggest game.”
Crawford 7-13 0-2 15, Edogi 7-11 0-0 14, McGill 5-12 2-2 13, Lewis 4-13 0-0 11, Casimir 1-8 1-2 4, Seaforth 0-0 0-0 0, Griffin 6-12 9-11 21, Svandrlik 0-1 0-0 0, Kensmil 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 30-70 12-17 78.
Oduro 5-12 2-7 12, Fisher 8-10 2-2 21, Smithen 1-4 3-4 5, Richard 9-19 4-4 22, Horn 6-14 2-2 18, Bentley 0-0 0-0 0, Huerter 1-1 0-0 2, Shivers 0-3 0-0 0, Friday 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 31-64 13-19 82.
Halftime score: Iona 36, Siena 33. Three-point shooting: Iona 6-19 (Crawford 1-5, McGill 1-2, Lewis 3-6, Casimir 1-5, Svandrlik 0-1), Siena 7-19 (Fisher 3-4, Richard 0-2, Horn 4-11, Shivers 0-2). Rebounds: Iona 34 (Edogi 13), Siena 40 (Smithen 10). Assists: Iona 13 (McGill 7), Siena 17 (Smithen 6). Turnovers: Iona 6, Siena 11. Total fouls: Iona 18, Siena 17. Fouled out: Huerter. Attendance: 5,773.