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Siena men's basketball loses opener at Providence

Siena men's basketball loses opener at Providence

Down big in second half, Saints battle back in Christian's 1st game
Siena men's basketball loses opener at Providence
Siena lost 77-67.
Photographer: Gregory Fisher/USA Today Sports

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — On the road against a Big East Conference foe, the Siena College men’s basketball team trailed by 18 points on opening night.

Did the youthful Saints, picked to finish last in the MAAC, fold?

Not a bit — and head coach Jamion Christian wasn’t surprised by that.

“A lot of teams will fold on the road,” Christian said. “You know, I didn’t worry about that with our team at all.”

Instead, in Christian’s first game as Siena’s head coach, the Saints battled back with their “Mayhem” brand of basketball against a highly regarded Providence squad. The Friars ended up with a 77-67 win Tuesday at Dunkin’ Donuts Center, but the Saints left their season opener confident they had used it to make another stride forward after an offseason and preseason full of them.

“I’m really proud of our group,” Siena senior Evan Fisher said. “I’m proud of the way we fought. I think there was a few times in that game where we could have given up.”

“We really battled throughout the whole game,” Siena freshman Jalen Pickett said. “We played really well together. We shared the ball well.”

Coming off an 8-24 season, Siena’s starting lineup was a secret until shortly before opening tip. The Saints went with Fisher and Pickett, plus sophomore Manny Camper, redshirt senior Kevin Degnan and freshman Sloan Seymour. Each of those five players scored at least seven points for the Saints, while junior Sammy Friday had nine points off the bench.

Seymour, a Shaker High School product, led the Saints with 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting from 3-point territory.

“I love Sloan,” Christian said. “Just a tremendous job of stretching the defense out there.

“We see that every day in practice,” Fisher said.

Siena trailed 50-34 at halftime after Providence closed the opening 20 minutes on a 28-12 run. Providence made 10 of 16 3-pointers in the first half, while Siena made 4 of 12 from downtown.

“We had a couple [missed] rotations defensively that gave them some open looks,” Christian said.

Providence looked ready to run away with Tuesday’s game early in the second half, building its lead to 66-48 with 13 minutes to go. Siena, though, got a number of consecutive defensive stops and made enough shots to get back into the game. The Saints trailed by as few as seven points in the final minutes.

“We made adjustments at halftime,” Seymour said, “and got our connectivity on point.”

Siena used a 10-man rotation throughout the night. Pickett played a team-high 32 minutes.

“We’re young, but we can’t use that as an excuse,” Seymour said. “We’ve just got to continue to get better each day.”

Providence freshman A.J. Reeves led all scorers with 29 points on 10 of 13 shooting, while redshirt senior Isaiah Jackson and junior Alpha Diallo each added 16.

For Siena, Fisher was the only player other than Seymour to finish with double-digit scoring. Fisher had 11 points, plus a team-high six rebounds. In the second half, Siena made 8 of 16 3-point attempts.

Christian said he felt confident heading into Tuesday’s opener, believing his team had put in the work to be ready. While Siena’s first game featured several rocky stretches, Fisher said the Saints’ new coach helped them recover each time.

“He’s good. He’s calm, cool and collected,” Fisher said. “Always feeding us confidence, no matter the situation. Always on top of it — offensively, defensively. Just a great leader.”

The Saints next play Thursday at George Washington.

Siena

Seymour 5-9 0-0 15, Fisher 5-10 1-2 11, Degnan 3-7 0-0 9, Camper 3-3 0-0 7, Pickett 2-11 2-2 7, Smithen 0-1 2-2 2, Huerter 0-0 0-0 0, Ratliff 2-4 0-0 6, Darwiche 0-2 1-2 1, Friday 3-4 3-5 9. Totals: 23-51 9-13 67.

Providence

Young 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson 6-9 1-1 16, Duke 0-5 0-0 0, Reeves 10-13 2-2 29, Diallo 6-11 1-2 16, Watson 5-5 0-0 10, Ashton-Langford 2-4 0-0 4, White 0-3 2-2 2, Nichols 0-0 0-0 0, Holt 0-1 0-0 0, Edwards 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 29-53 6-7 77.

Halftime: Providence 50, Siena 34. Three-point goals: Siena 12-28, Providence 13-25. Rebounds: Siena 23 (Fisher 6), Providence 31 (Diallo 11). Assists: Siena 16 (Pickett 9), Providence 16 (Diallo 5). Turnovers: Siena 13, Providence 15. Total fouls: Siena 12, Providence 13. Fouled out: None. Technicals: None. Attendance: 8,021.

Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

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