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Siena women's basketball loses MAAC tournament opener

Siena women's basketball loses MAAC tournament opener

'Really, really frustrating day for us — and unacceptable at Siena'
Siena women's basketball loses MAAC tournament opener
Siena lost Thursday in its MAAC tournament opener.
Photographer: Erica Miller

ALBANY — The Siena College women’s basketball team beat Iona by a dozen points in January and 19 in February.

In March?

Iona topped the Saints 75-64 Thursday in the first round of the MAAC women’s basketball tournament at Times Union Center, a season-ending defeat Siena head coach Ali Jaques didn’t mince words in describing.

“I think Iona outplayed us. Played a lot harder than us. I think they deserved the win. I told our team that after the game in the locker room,” Jaques said. “They outhustled us. They outrebounded us. We missed free throws. Really, really frustrating day for us — and unacceptable at Siena.”

Siena (No. 7, 12-18) led 21-16 after the first quarter and scored the first five points of the second, but Iona (No. 10, 5-25) answered with an 18-0 run in which Jaques did not call a timeout.

“I’m always hesitant to call timeout because I’m used to having a team that is going to fight back, and I always like having timeouts in my pocket at the end of the game,” Jaques said.

Later, she added: “Unfortunately, this season, this team hasn’t had as much fight as teams we’ve had in the past.”

Iona led 36-28 at halftime. Siena made a few runs in the second half, but never took the lead. The Saints trailed by as many as 14 points in the final quarter of their season, which ended with them losing 8 of 11 games and not making it to at least the MAAC quarterfinals for the first time since 2006.

“Like Coach said, we got out-hustled,” Siena redshirt senior Aaliyah Jones said. “Defensively, we had some lapses. They got some shots that they shouldn’t have got. We went over it in practice. We just lost focus.”

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Siena only made 22 of 55 shots from the field, 5 of 18 from 3-point territory and 15 of 26 from the foul line. Iona committed 25 turnovers, but shot 25 of 47 from the field to make up for its miscues.

“Could not be more proud of our young group and how they attacked this game,” Iona head coach Billi Chambers said.

Siena had some life until Iona freshman Shyan Mwai beat the shot clock with a jumper to put Iona up 67-60 with 2:06 to go. After Siena senior Deja Rawls split a pair of free throws, Mwai hit another shot to put Iona up 69-61. From there, Iona maintained at least a three-possession lead for the final 92 seconds.

The top focus in the offseason, Jaques said, is for the members of her program to regain enthusiasm.

“We’ve got to get back to loving basketball. Literally, loving basketball,” Jaques said. “We have an amazing practice facility. We have a brand-new weight room — and we’re not in it enough. So my staff and myself, and our players, need to be in there more. Need to be working more.”

IONA

Joseph 0-2 0-0 0, Lesko 0-3 2-6 2, Mwai 9-15 0-0 19, Rachu 5-7 4-4 19, Camilion 8-13 8-8 26, Barefield 2-5 1-2 7, Ramil 1-2 0-0 2, Martin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-47 15-20 75.

SIENA

Sims 3-7 1-4 7, Jones 6-14 6-8 18, Gibson 4-9 3-4 11, Rawls 5-11 3-6 17, Piper 4-11 2-4 11, Watts 0-1 0-0 0, Gerostergiou 0-1 0-0 0, Anthony 0-1 0-0 0, Strawn 0-0 0-0 0, Peterson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-55 15-26 64.

Iona 16 20 13 26 — 75

Siena 21 7 17 19 — 64

Three-point shooting: Iona 10-22, Siena 5-18. Rebounds: Iona 37 (Camilion 9), Siena 24 (Jones 5). Assists: Iona 11 (Lesko 5), Siena 10 (Gibson 3). Turnovers: Iona 25, Siena 17. Total fouls: Iona 17, Siena 21.

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

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