Game Preview: Siena vs. Niagara In MAAC Tourney First Round

men's 2014-15 team picture

The Siena Saints kickoff the 2015 MAAC Tournament on Thursday as they face the Purple Eagles of Niagara in a First Round matchup. Tip off at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY is scheduled for 5 p.m.  It is the 94th meeting all-time between the two teams with Siena narrowly leading the series, 47-46.

The Saints, who have struggled a bit down the stretch losing five straight and their last 9 of the last 11, will be facing a team in Niagara who is hot, winning their last four. Siena did sweep the Purple Eagles during the regular season winning 79-69 in Albany and 74-70 at Niagara.

Siena No. 8 vs. Niagara No. 9 in the MAAC Tournament

The Saints and the Purple Eagles have faced each other 7 times in the MAAC Tournament with the Saints winning four and Niagara taking 3. Siena is 4-1 against Niagara in MAAC Tourney games in Albany. Two of the Siena wins came in the Championship Game. The first came in 2002 when the 7th seeded Saints made an unlikely run to the title and the other in 2009 when the top seeded Saints won their second of three straight championships.

Siena enters the game with a 10-19 record overall having gone 7-13 in the MAAC. The Saints have struggled offensively as of late averaging just 63 points per game while shooting 40% from the field and 29% from three point range in their last seven games. While defense has been an opportunity for much of the season,the Saints held their last two opponents – Quinnipiac and Monmouth to just 30% shooting from the field and 25% from three-point range. On the season, opponents shot 48% from the field and 40% from three-point range at Times Union Center.

Probable Starters for Siena

Senior Rob Poole, an All-MAAC Third Team selection, is Siena’s leading scorer averaging 14.2 points per game (9th in MAAC). He ranks 10th in scoring all-time at Siena and is one of five active players in all of Division I to have 500 rebounds, 200 three-pointers, 200 assists and 100 steals. Poole, who is suffering through an ankle injury missed Siena’s last regular season game vs. Monmouth. He also missed the last meeting with Thursday’s opponent Niagara in late January. Poole is expected to play on Thursday.

This season vs. Niagara: Game 1 at home, 17 points, 9 rebounds. Game 2 at Niagara DNP

Sophomore Marquis Wright was named Siena’s Most Valuable Player at the annual Siena Basketball Celebration on Monday night. He is second on the team in scoring (12.7 ppg.) and ranks 2nd in the MAAC in assists (5.0) and steals (2.1). Wright is 3rd in the MAAC minutes played (36.6) and 4th in assist to turnover ratio (1.9). He is what makes the Saints go.

This season vs. Niagara: Game 1 at home, 12 points, 8 rebounds 7 assists. Game 2 at Niagara 12 points, 4 rebounds

Senior Evan Hymes is one of just 5 players in  program history to score 1,300 points and tally 300 assists. He brings great energy to the Saints whether starting or coming of the bench. Hymes has scored at least 9 points in six of the last seven games. He ranks tied for 19th all time in scoring at Siena (1,316), 9th in assists (358) and 10th in three-pointers (181).

This season vs. Niagara: Game 1 at home, 21 points. Game 2 at Niagara 11 points

Sophomore Lavon Long is third in the team in scoring averaging 10.1 points and is first in rebounding with 4.9 boards per game. Siena will look for Long to reemerge for the Saints as he has scored in double figures in just one of the last eight games. He had reached double figures in 9 of the 10 games prior. Long has shot just 27% from the field over the last 7 games and leads the nation in fouls per game on the season with 4.16. His presence on the court is important to the Saints.

This season vs. Niagara: Game 1 at home, 14 points. Game 2 at Niagara 10 points, 6 rebounds

Sophomore Javion Ogunyemi is Siena’s most improved player this season. He has reached double figures in 6 of the last 7 games and led the team in scoring over that span with 11.7 points while shooting 64% from the field. Ogunyemi is second in the MAAC in field goal percentage on the season shooting 54.7%. He is averaging 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds this season after averaging just 1.9 points and 1.8 rebounds as a freshman.

This season vs. Niagara: Game 1 at home, 5 points 5 blocks. Game 2 at Niagara 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists

Key Bench Players

Ryan Oliver is averaging team best 12.5 points over last four games. Scored career-high 23 points vs. Canisius (2/19) and team-high 18 at Monmouth in final regular season game.

Willem Brandwijk averaged 5.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 19.5 minutes in final regular season weekend. Scored 12 points at Niagara.

Jimmy Paige started six of the last eight games and shot 62% from the field over the last ten games.


Niagara Purple Eagles

Niagara enters the game with a record of 8-21 overall and 7-13 in the MAAC. Their current 4-game winning streak is presently the longest in the MAAC.

Dominique Reid,  a 6-8 redshirt freshman forward was named to the 2014-15 MAAC All-Rookie Team. Reid, averaged 9.3 points per game and was second on the team in rebounds with 5.8 per contest. He has tallied 5 double-doubles this season.

Game 1 at Siena 8 points, 8 rebounds Game 2 at home 16 points, 9 rebounds

Ramone Snowden, a 6-6 sophomore forward is second on the team in scoring (10.9 ppg.) and first in rebounding (6.1 rpg.).

Game 1 at Siena 10 points, 6 rebounds Game 2 at home 11 points

Emile Blackman is a 6-4 redshirt sophomore guard who has scored in double figures in 12 of the last 14 games, is the only player in the MAAC ranked in the Top-11 in scoring (13.6 ppg), field goal percentage (.460) and 3-point field goal percentage (.390).

Game 1 at Siena 11 points Game 2 at home 21 points, 6 rebounds

According to KenPom.com, Niagara is the THIRD youngest team in the nation. NU has 12 underclassmen on the roster.

Niagara 2014-2015 Results:



Fri. 14 at Pitt# L, 78-45

Thurs. 20 at Saint Peter’s* W, 61-59

SAT. 22 Hartford L, 65-62

Sat. 29 St. Bonaventure L, 74-59


Tue. 2 at St. John’s^ L, 70-57

SAT. 6 CANISIUS* L, 77-64

Sat. 13 at Davidson L, 78-58

Fri. 19 at Buffalo# L, 88-62


TUE. 30 ALBANY$ W, 65-47


FRI. 2 MANHATTAN*$ W, 73-61

SUN. 4 MONMOUTH* L, 66-50

Thur. 8 at Siena*$ L, 79-69

Sat. 10 at Manhattan* L, 84-75

TUE. 13 PENN L, 67-56

FRI. 16 IONA*# L, 80-79

SUN. 18 SIENA*$ L, 74-70

Fri. 23 at Monmouth# L, 69-58

Sun. 25 at Iona* L, 87-64

FRI. 30 MARIST*# L, 65-61


SUN. 1 QUINNIPIAC* W, 105-100 (2OT)

Fri. 6 at MARIST* L, 63-61

Sun. 8 at QUINNIPIAC* L, 91-69

FRI. 13 SAINT PETER’S* L, 77-65

Sun. 15 RIDER*$ L, 69-60

Thur. 19 at Fairfield W 55-53

Sat. 21 at Rider* W, 65-61

Tue. 24 at Canisius*# W, 82-71

MARCH (1-0)

SUN. 1 FAIRFIELD* W, 57-56




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