Late Basket Pushes UMass past Saints

Siena jumped out to a first half 17 point lead, but was unable to maintain the momentum, ultimately falling to UMass tonight by the final score of 64-63.

The game was truly the story of two halves. The Saints came out strong in the opening period, playing a tough defense that limited UMass to 24 points in the first 20 minutes. On the back of excellent three point shooting, aided by strong ball movement that created multiple open looks, the Saints were able to push their lead to a game high 17 points, 17 minutes into the game, before UMass made a late push to limit the first half damage to a 10 point deficit. In the half Siena was 7-11 from three and shot 48% overall from the field.

In the second half UMass emerged looking like a different team. Their defensive pressure was greatly increased, with three players routinely descending on O.D. Anosike any time he received the ball. The Saints tried to force their way through the middle several times without success, resulting in several quick possessions and poor shots. UMass capitalized, erasing the Saints lead and moving to a six point lead of their own.

With the help of strong bench contributions from Ryan Oliver, Brett Bisping, Davis Martens, and Rich Audu the Saints were able to hang in the game and retake the lead, holding a 63-60 advantage entering the final minute of play. The Saints would not score again. O.D. Anosike missed his final three free throws, and the Saints lost Evan Hymes to cramping for the final minute, allowing UMass to score the final 4 points, the last a layup by Chaz Williams with 3.3 seconds left to play.

Despite the loss Coach Mitch Buonaguro was positive in his assessment of his team’s performance.

“Just a great basketball game I could not have asked for more from my kids. Tremendous intensity, it reminded me of a tournament game. There was tremendous intensity on the defensive end. I thought our guys battled. I just want to commend my players for playing a great game.”

This is a tough loss for the Saints. Against one of the toughest opponents on this year’s schedule, the Saints were able to jump to a comfortable 17 point lead but simply were not able to hold on. Fans will surely discuss the final play following the Williams’ basket, a full court inbounds pass to a well guarded O.D. Anosike, but a final play alone does not decide the outcome of a ball game.

Evan Hymes led all Saints with 15 points while playing a team high 39 points before missing the last minute due to cramping.

O.D. Anosike continued his season long double-double streak, pushing the mark to 7 games, with a 13 point and 13 rebound performance. Despite the strong scoring totals, O.D. shot 3-8 from the free throw line. As a team the Saints shot 12-19.

An encouraging sign for the Saints tonight was the strong contribution of their bench. Ryan Oliver scored 5 points in his 13 minutes of play. Brett Bisping added 4 points, 4 boards, 2 assists and took a big charge in the second half. Davis Martens chipped in 4 points and 5 rebounds as well. All contributed meaningful minutes and a 9 man rotation appears to be emerging for the Saints.

“I’m really pleased tonight with how the guys off the bench played”, said Bounaguro. “If we can get that kind of production from the bench we’ll be a good team.”

The Saints next take on crosstown rival UAlbany on Saturday as the second part of a men’s-women’s double header that tips off at 5pm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *