ALBANY — It’s a team built around four players, and each of them delivered Tuesday.
That provided the Siena men’s basketball team with more than enough firepower to produce a 78-65 win against rival St. Bonaventure. Manny Camper delivered 15 points and 17 rebounds in the junior’s first career double-double, while each of fifth-year senior Elijah Burns, redshirt sophomore Don Carey and sophomore Jalen Pickett scored 19 points. That foursome scored Siena’s first 44 points and gobbled up approximately 70% of the team’s minutes against St. Bonaventure, which had embarrassed Siena a year ago with an 82-40 victory.
Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello has stressed his team will need contributions from other players as the season goes along. On Tuesday night at Times Union Center playing for the Br. Ed Coughlin Franciscan Cup, though, Maciariello stuck with his top four — plus fifth-year senior Matt Hein, who had four points and a number of timely hustle plays — as much as possible.
“All those [reserves] have done a good job and we try to get them minutes to get them experienced to grow our bench for MAAC play, but, at the end of the day, this was a game we wanted to win and I’m not trying to keep people happy [by] playing them a certain number of minutes, this or that,” Maciariello said. “Guys got to produce when they’re on the floor. These guys produce. I’m not taking them off.”
The victory for Siena (2-1) was its first against St. Bonaventure (0-3) since 2015. The rivals this year played for the Br. Ed Coughlin Franciscan Cup, which was renamed in honor of the former Siena president and St. Bonaventure alumnus who died earlier this year. Before the game, friars from both schools and members of Coughlin’s family came to center court as part of a ceremony in which the Very Rev. Fr. Kevin Mullen, OFM, Siena’s former president who is now the provincial minister of Holy Name Province, described Coughlin as the “bridge that connects the dots” between St. Bonaventure and Siena.
“Brother Ed was a phenomenal man,” Maciariello said. “His vision for our college and what he meant to us as a person was indescribable. So kind, so gentle — but also a great vision for where he wanted to bring our student body.”
Against St. Bonaventure, Siena led 38-35 at halftime with Burns, Camper, Carey and Pickett scoring all of the Saints’ points in the opening 20 minutes. Carey led with 11 points, Burns and Pickett each had 10, and Camper collected seven points and eight rebounds before halftime. That foursome made 13 of 23 shots in the first half, while the rest of the Saints shot 0 of 7. For the game, those four Siena players combined for 92.3% of the team’s points, 69.2% of its rebounds, and all of the Saints’ assists.
In the second half, Siena put the game away with a 9-0 run that started with a couple free throws from Camper after a St. Bonaventure flagrant foul and ended with seven consecutive points from Pickett to put Siena up 69-56 with 4:35 to go. From there, Siena’s lead never dwindled to fewer than nine.
“We had a hard time keeping them out of the paint,” St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt said. “To me, that was the key.”
For St. Bonaventure, sophomore Dominick Welch had a game-high 21 points.
Carey — who had a root canal Monday and missed the team’s practice that day — scored Siena’s first eight points. Off a loss at Xavier, he said the Saints went into their matchup with the Bonnies looking to attack the basket.
“One main focus that we had coming out was just getting the ball in the paint and getting downhill,” Carey said. “Being aggressive. Trying to attack their bigs.”
Siena did that, outscoring St. Bonaventure 38-18 in the paint and 16-2 in fast-break situations. Key to both of those advantages for the Saints was Camper, who pushed the ball on his own after defensive rebounds.
“When Manny rebounds the ball like that, it makes it much easier on me because then we can just play out in transition,” Pickett, the team’s point guard, said. “He can bring the ball up and it just makes us much faster and [allows us to play] how we want to play.”
Camper’s 17 rebounds marked a career-high total.
“Coach made [rebounding] a huge point of emphasis before the game, knowing that they had aggressive big guys and [redshirt sophomore Bobby] Planutis, who came in averaging 10 rebounds,” Camper said, “so I just made it my No. 1 priority to go out there and box him out and stay active on the rebounds.”
“He’s my type of guy,” Maciariello said of Camper. “Sometimes, it’s not pretty. He’s going to do whatever it takes to win the game. He’s going to guard the other team’s best player. He’s going to lock in on the game plan. He’s going to be in the gym at night shooting free throws. He’s come a long way, and we believe in him and can’t ask for anything more from a Siena Saint basketball player.”
Siena plays Thursday at 2-1 Harvard. With such a quick turnaround before that game, Siena likely needs more production from other Saints than Burns, Camper, Carey and Pickett — but Maciariello said he’ll let that quartet play as much as it can handle.
“You’ve got to earn that right to be on the court,” Maciariello said. “These guys have.”
Planutis 0-1 0-0 0, Ikpeze 3-8 2-2 8, Lofton 5-11 2-2 14, Welch 7-19 2-2 21, Johnson 3-8 0-0 7, Carpenter 0-1 0-0 0, Vasquez 2-5 0-0 5, Winston 4-10 1-1 10, Okoli 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-63 7-7 65.
Burns 8-12 3-4 19, Carey 4-13 9-9 19, Camper 4-5 6-12 15, Hein 2-4 0-0 4, Pickett 6-10 4-4 19, King 0-3 0-0 0, Friday 1-3 0-0 2, Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Ratliff 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 25-54 22-29 78.
Halftime score: Siena 38, St. Bonaventure 35. Three-point shooting: St. Bonaventure 10-28 (Planutis 0-1, Lofton 2-5, Welch 5-12, Johnson 1-4, Vasquez 1-3, Winston 1-3), Siena 6-18 (Carey 2-7, Camper 1-1, Hein 0-1, Pickett 3-5, King 0-3, Ratliff 0-1). Rebounds: St. Bonaventure 30 (Welch 7), Siena 39 (Camper 17). Assists: St. Bonaventure 12 (Lofton 7), Siena 12 (Pickett 6). Turnovers: St. Bonaventure 13, Siena 14. Total fouls: St. Bonaventure 20, Siena 11. Flagrant fouls: Lofton. Fouled out: Lofton. Attendance: 5,680.