Saints Effort Falls Short vs Iona

In pregame this looked like a different Saints team. There was more communication. There looked to be more encouragement and leadership.

For 30+ minutes of game play this didn’t look like a team that was 2-11 and losers of its last nine. There was intensity. There was fire. There was improved shooting and point guard play.

The final stretch minutes, however, were entirely too familiar. In perhaps a bit of revenge for last season’s stunning loss, the Iona Gaels found a way to leave the Times Union Center with a 66-62 win, the first at the Times Union Center for any member of Gaels roster (which would probably sound more impressive if they didn’t turnover 90% of their roster every season).

The Saints battled through the first half, and held one of the nation’s most prolific offenses to 24 points. While the Saints didn’t set the nets on fire, they used a 6-0 run to end the half, accented by a monster tomahawk jam off the baseline from Davis Martens, to take a 29-24 lead into the locker room for the first time since, well its been awhile.

The second half continued the Saints run and saw the lead pushed to as many as 10. Things began to turn at the 10 minute mark. Iona followed up a Saints missed layup with a three by Sean Armand to cut the lead to 6. On the ensuing inbounds, Ryan Oliver committed a turnover in the face of a Gaels press. Momo Jones took the ball for an easy layup and one, due to an Oliver foul, to cut the lead to 3. Turnovers by Rob Poole and Brett Bisping on the two ensuing possessions led to five more unanswered Gaels points to give Iona a 51-49 lead. The Saints fought back, and found themselves in the lead three minutes to go, but missed three pointers by Hymes and Brookins, and key offensive rebounds and free throws by the Gaels were enough to put them on top for good and steal the win from Siena.

OD Anosike had a great game, with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Rob Poole also played well with 18 points and 8 boards, while shooting 50% from three. Of special note was the play of Evan Hymes. While he struggled late in the game, his overall performance was his best all season. The Saints point guard had 7 assists to 0 turnovers while contributing 4 points. Imoh Silas also stepped up for the Saints, scoring 7 points on 3-4 shooting, while grabbing 4 rebounds.

This was a heartbreaking loss for the Saints, who looked to be in firm control for most of the game against one of the MAAC’s better squads. With the loss the Saints drop to 2-12, 0-6 at home. The 10 game losing streak is the longest since a 15 game streak to end the 95-96 season.

Siena will look to right the ship Sunday at Rider.

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