Game Preview: Siena Women Face Niagara In Pink Zone Game

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The Siena women take on Niagara Thursday night in the 15th annual Pink Zone Game, an event to raise money and awareness to help fight breast cancer. Tip off at the Alumni Recreation Center is scheduled for 7 pm. This is the 71st meeting between the two teams with Siena leading the series 44-26.

“I think it’s just a great event,” said Siena head Ali Jaques. “It’s a tremendous example of what Siena means and what we stand for as far as being part of the community and giving back. The group CRAAB! that comes in does a lot of the work for this. We’re just happy to be a part of it. These women are amazing. They’re survivors. It’s just a really inspirational day.”

The Pink Zone game is an event which benefits CRAAB!, Capital Region Action Against Breast Cancer. Since the inception the event has raised a total of $136,425 with last year’s game earning a record $30,680.

“Being a part of a number of pink zone type experiences as a coach over the years, it’s always a special day,” Jaques said. “But, I think because of our relationship in the community and because of the relationship that this group of women brings, it’s more personalized. I think that gives it more of a connection and makes it more special for our players and our program.”

The Saints enter the game with an overall record of 14-9 and 7-7 in the MAAC which positions them in 5th place as they head into the home stretch of the season. They are coming off a 65-58 win over Monmouth on Saturday.

Siena is led by Senior Tehresa Coles who is fourth in the MAAC in scoring averaging 13.7 points per game. She leads the MAAC and is 18th in the country with 3.0 steals per game. Coles is 5th in the league in free-throw percentage shooting 81.4%.

“It’s a humbling and exciting experience because we’re playing in front of our community which, like always, is amazing,” said Coles of the Pink Zone game. “But, it’s even more special because we’re playing for such a great cause. All these women who come out and they take the picture before the game and we get to walk them out on the court, it’s so exciting. It’s my favorite game of the year, honestly.”

“It really puts things into perspective,” continued Coles. “We sometimes come out the day after a game and we’re sore and we don’t even think we can make it through a practice. But, to think these women have been through so much and they’re so strong and they’ve overcome challenges that we cant even fathom. It’s amazing for them to be here and for them to think that we are awesome for doing what we do. Really they’re the ones who are impressive.”

Freshman Margot Hetzke is second on the team and 5th in scoring averaging 13.6 points per game. She leads the team and is 3rd in MAAC pulling down 7.2 rebounds per game. Hetzke won her 8th MAAC Rookie of the Week award on Monday, the third most in conference history.

For the Saints, it has been a season in which they have done well in the face of adversity all season long. Competing with just seven active players for most of the season, the Saints hope to draw inspiration from the event to help them persevere on the court.

“Our team has been an example of beating the odds all year,” said Jaques. “I think that it’s about time we won this game. Niagara’s very talented. We were lucky to get a steal up there. We’re focused between the lines on what we have to do but we’ve also made a focus in February that we have great fans and we have a great community and it’s our job to come out here and put on a show for them and get wins for them at home. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that.”

Niagara enters the game with an overall record of 10-13 and 6-8 in the MAAC, tied for 6th place. They are coming off a 66-56 victory, sweeping the season series, against Fairfield.

Niagara’s offense is led by senior guard Meghan McGuinness who averages 13.2 ppg. and sophomore forward Victoria Rampado who is scoring 12.7 ppg for the Purple Eagles. Niagara currently ranks 11th in the nation with a 37.2 three-point field goal percentage.

In the matchup at Niagara earlier this season, the Saints  pulled off some late game heroics with the score tied as Tehresa Coles came up with a huge steal and was fouled with 12 seconds to go. She sank two free throws and after a Niagara miss Emia Willingham made tow more free throws to secure a 56-52 win. Willingham led the Saints with 16 points and 9 rebounds.

“Niagara’s a very potent offensive team,” Jaques said, “They can shoot the ball very well. They were without the services of their starting center last time. That adds a different element of size to us in defending post play. Every game’s a new game. For us, we’re just looking to get better every single day. I feel good about where we’re at.”


About Capital Region Action Against Breast Cancer
CRAAB! is a community-based non-profit organization created in 1997 by a diverse group of caregivers, health practitioners, educators, advocates and several breast cancer survivors who know first-hand about the shock of a cancer diagnosis and the need to find support. The late Patricia Brown of Siena College co-founded this organization. Dr. Brown served the Siena College biology department for 35 years. She inspired colleagues and students with her passion for teaching and her endless energy to create change. 


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