Saints Begin Long MAAC Tournament Road

The ninth seeded Saints will begin their MAAC Tournament journey tonight at 7:30 when they take on the eighth seeded Marist Red Foxes.

For the Saints its an opportunity to reset and attempt to erase the memory of a disappointing regular season. The mountain they have to climb is steep, being relegated to the opening round of action after missing out on a first round bye courtesy of a 7-23 regular season performance. Only one team has ever won the MAAC Championship after having to play on the tournament’s opening night. That team, the 2001-02 Siena Saints, rattled off four straight wins on route to the MAAC crown and a play in game victory over Alcorn State in the NCAA Tournament. That 2002 team had a large luxury this year’s team will not, home court advantage. That year’s tournament was played at the then named Pepsi Arena where as this year’s team will need to travel to Springfield, MA.

Siena and Marist split their regular season meetings with each team winning on the other team’s home court. The Saints came away with a 79-75 win on January 27th in Poughkeepsie while Marist beat the Saints exactly one week ago in Albany 76-74.

The difference in both games was the performance of each team’s leading big man. OD Anosike had a dominate 20 point 21 rebound performance in the team’s first meeting while Marist’s Adam Kemp had 24 points and 14 rebounds in Albany.

Siena will need to find a way to contain Kemp to win this game. Kemp took advantage of the Saints zone repeatedly in that second matchups. He had multiple opportunities to get behind the Saints defense, being left virtual unguarded under the basket, leading to 7 dunks, 3 of which were alley-oops.

Marist is hot going into the tournament, having won 5 of their last 7 games. Over that span the Foxes beat 3 seed Loyola, 4 seed Iona, 7 seed Fairfield, Siena, and VMI in their brackbuster matchup by an impressive 38 points magin. Their two losses came to 1 seed Niagara by 3 points and 2 seed Rider by 4.

Siena meanwhile has lost 7 of its last 8 games and has been without guards Rakeem Brookins, Ryan Oliver, and forward Brett Bisping. Oliver is out for the tournament, Brookins is questionable, while Bisping is expected to play.

Should the Saints muster a win against Marist they would face one seed Niagara tomorrow at 2:30pm.

With a loss the Saints will match a program worst 24 loses, a mark set in the 2004-05 season.

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