Saints Look Strong in Loss to Purdue

For the fourth consecutive game the Saints fought for 40 minutes, displaying more than just glimpses of a future that appears to be much closer than many pundits believed. Behind strong efforts off the bench from Brett Bisping and Evan Hymes the Saints played the Purdue Boilermakers of the Big Ten to the very end, coming up just short on the losing end 81-73. With the loss the Saints dropped to 2-4 on the season.

In the opening minutes the youth of the Saints roster was on display. They appeared to be a bit wide eyed at the prospect of playing on the home court of a Big Ten opponent. The Saints committed three quick fouls in the games opening minute and surrendered eight offensive rebounds in the games first seven minutes to find themselves down 11-4 at the 13:12 mark of the first half. Following a change to a 2-3 zone defense, the Saints reduced the second chance opportunities and climb their way back into the game. An Imoh Silas jumper off an offensive rebound gave the Saints a 20-19 lead with 8:10 to go in the half before the Boilermakers used a string of four consecutive three pointers to push the lead to a game high 11. Undeterred the Saints once again responded with an 8-0 run to close the half down only by 3, 39-36.

The opening ten minutes of the second half was a see-saw battle between the two teams. The Saints were put at a significant disadvantage with 9:53 to go when Lavon Long fouled out. He was followed only one second later by Imoh Silas picking up his fifth foul as well. Their absence created a notable advantage inside for Purdue which the Boilmakers were able to exploit to stunt any Saints momentum. To Siena’s credit they kept the game within reach to the very end, but were never able to gain traction on one final run to push themselves over the top.

As noted, Purdue’s size was a major factor in the game. They dominated the offensive glass in the game’s opening ten minutes and had 12 blocks as a team, including six from center AJ Hammons. Again, to the Saints credit they were able to make adjustments and stay competitive and earned an even split on the boards, matching Purdue with 15 offensive boards and 45 total for the game.

Evan Hymes and Brett Bisping were invaluable for the Saints off the bench. Hymes through stretches of the game put the Saints offensive on his back. He looked much more like the Evan Hymes of his freshman year, fearlessly driving the lane and drawing contact. He finished with a game high 18 points while also contributing a five assists, to only two turnovers, including a smooth behind the back feed to a driving Rob Poole for an easy bucket.

For the second time in three games Brett Bisping had a career game. He scored a career high 16 points and matched his career high with 8 rebounds in another strong effort off the Saints bench.

Rob Poole added his second career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds while Marquis Wright joined him in double figures with 10 points and 5 assists.

While the Saints came away with the loss the team has to feel good about their effort. For 40 minutes they ran with a competitive team from a BCS conference. Returning players look to be excelling in Jimmy Patsos more fast paced offense and the freshman are quickly adapting to Division I play. While the non-conference schedule remains rough, with the Saints not returning home until December 23, the Saints look like a team that will be very competitive when MAAC play begins.

The Saints will next head to Orlando, FL to participate in the Old Spice Classic over the Thanksgiving weekend. First up will be a matchup on Thanksgiving night against the 11th ranked Memphis Tigers. The game will tip at 6:30 and is available on ESPN2.

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