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Strong first half carries Siena basketball past Rider

Strong first half carries Siena basketball past Rider

Pickett scores 27
Strong first half carries Siena basketball past Rider
Siena won 73-64 Friday against Rider.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

​ALBANY — There were some tense moments in the second half, but an overwhelming start proved to be enough Friday night for the Siena men’s basketball team against visiting Rider.

The Saints stayed undefeated at Times Union Center with a 73-64 victory in which sophomore Jalen Pickett starred throughout an uneven performance for Siena. The Saints led 39-17 at halftime, but Rider outscored Siena 47-34 in the second half of a matchup featuring two of the MAAC’s top teams.

“Happy we found a way to win,” Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello said. “Obviously, thought our defensive effort in the first half, holding them to 17 points, was phenomenal — and I thought the second half was really bad. Giving up 47 points, getting outscored by 13, got beat up on the glass [for the] third straight game. But, at the end of the day, we found a way to win, and I’m moving onto Manhattan.”

Siena hosts Manhattan 2 p.m. Sunday as part of a double-header with the Siena women’s team, which plays Marist at noon. 

The Siena men looked ready to cruise to a MAAC win after Friday’s opening 20 minutes, during which Rider head coach Kevin Baggett used all four of his timeouts for the game. The Saints were that dominant in the first half, and ended the stanza with a 13-0 run that Pickett capped with a 3-pointer.

“Just our energy,” Maciariello said of what led to the Saints’ fast start. “I thought we had some grittiness and some toughness, and guys locked into the game plan and executed it.”

Pickett finished with a season-high 27 points on 11 of 15 shooting, plus had nine assists and only one turnover. Pickett had 17 of his points and five of his assists in the first half. 

In the second half, Rider made things interesting with a long run after Siena had pushed to a game-high 25-point lead. Rider put together a 25-8 run to get within 52-44, but Siena answered with a 13-5 stretch that fifth-year senior Elijah Burns capped with a basket. From there, Siena maintained at least a three-possession advantage the rest of the way.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” Pickett said. “We knew they were going to make a push on us, but I like how we kept our composure as a team, from top to bottom.”

For Siena, Burns had a dozen points, redshirt sophomore Don Carey added 11 and junior Manny Camper had 10. Rider also had four double-digit scorers, led by redshirt junior Frederick Scott’s 21 points.

With the win, Siena moved into a tie for second place in the MAAC standings with Monmouth. The Saints and Hawks are a half-game behind Saint Peter’s, but all three teams are tied in the loss column.

Its loss dropped Rider from tied for first place to alone in fourth.

Previously, Siena (8-5, 12-10) had suffered an 85-77 setback at Rider (8-6, 14-10) in January. 

Friday’s victory was the 300th MAAC win for the Siena program. The Saints joined Iona and Manhattan as the league’s only teams with that many conference wins.

RIDER

Scott 7-14 5-6 21, Vaughn 4-10 2-3 10, Marshall 6-7 1-2 13, Williams 0-3 0-0 0, Jordan 3-9 2-2 10, Ogemuno-Johnson 1-1 0-0 2, Nunez 2-11 1-1 6, Randall 0-0 0-0 0, Ings 1-2 0-1 2, Bladen 0-1 0-0 0, Powell 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 24-60 11-15 64.

SIENA

Burns 4-9 3-4 12, Carey 3-12 4-4 11, Harris 1-5 2-4 4, Camper 4-6 1-3 10, Pickett 11-15 2-3 27, Young 0-0 0-0 0, King 1-2 0-0 3, Hein 1-1 0-0 2, Friday 2-2 0-0 4. Totals: 27-52 12-18 73. 

Halftime score: Siena 39, Rider 17. Three-point shooting: Rider 5-23 (Scott 2-4, Vaughn 0-4, Williams 0-1, Jordan 2-5, Nunez 1-7, Ings 0-1, Powell 0-1), Siena 7-21 (Burns 1-2, Carey 1-8, Harris 0-2, Camper 1-2, Pickett 3-5, King 1-2). Rebounds: Rider 36 (Scott, Vaughn, Marshall 7), Siena 27 (Burns, Carey 5). Assists: Rider 10 (Scott 4), Siena 15 (Pickett 9). Turnovers: Rider 12, Siena 7. Total fouls: Rider 14, Siena 15. Technical fouls: Nunez. Attendance: 5,600.​​​

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