Saints lose a heartbreaker to Vermont

The Saints opened their season tonight vs America East opponent Vermont, and for the third consecutive season it was the Saints coming out on the wrong side of the contest. Despite sprinting out to an early 16 point lead, the Saints fell to the Catamounts 54-53.

The Saints night began well and had the Times Union Center crowd roaring. Siena used a 13-0 run to help build an early 20-4 lead midway through the first half, but this would prove to be the Saints high water mark of the evening. The Catamounts clawed their way back into the game as the Saints shooting began to cool. It took much of the game, but Vermont finally was able to take the lead, 47-46, with 5 minutes to play. The Saints were able to hang around, and push their lead back to as many as 3, but it was not enough, as Vermont pulled ahead for good with 9 seconds left on a Sandro Carissimo lay-up.

Evan Hymes led the Saints with 15 points in the losing effort. Hymes saw an uncharacteristically low 28 minutes of action due to severe cramping in the second half. The Saints star point guard was taken to the locker room on a stretcher where he received fluids. He missed a 9 minute span, returning for the game’s final 3 minutes. In his absence freshman walk-on Chris Leppanen handled the point.

Rob Poole added 13 points with 6 rebounds, but struggled from behind the arc. After hitting his first three point attempt, Poole went on to shoot 1-6 from deep for the remainder of the game.

OD Anosike put up dominant numbers in his first game as team captain. The senior big man racked up his first double double of the season, scoring 10 points with 17 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 blocks, but it was his shooting from the free throw line that was the story of the evening. Anosike shot 2-11 from the line, a stat that played a significant role in the outcome of the game. As a team the Saints converted only 11 of 24 free throws, and shot a dismal 6 for 17 in the second half.

While the outcome of the game was not what the crowd of 6,779 was hoping for, they were treated to their first look at three players who look to have bright futures at Siena. Freshmen Rich Audu, Ryan Oliver, and Brett Bisping all saw meaningful minutes in the loss. Oliver started at the two guard position in place of the suspended Rakeem Brookins. While he was 0-2 from the field and finished with 1 point and 2 rebounds in 23 minutes of action before fouling out, he looked to be a capable defender with a smooth shooting form. Rich Audu finished with 3 points a rebound and two assists in 18 minutes while Bisping added seven in 15 minutes of action.

There are several factors that contributed to the Saints loss, with the first being the suspensions of Rakeem Brookins and Trenity Burdine. In a game that was ultimately decided by one point, one must think that the Saints would have been on the winning side of the final score had their starting two guard suited up tonight as opposed to wearing a suit on the sidelines. The loss of Hymes for much of the last half of the second half certainly did not help the Saints chances either. On the court though, this loss comes down to the team’s rough free throw shooting. 11-24 will not get it done against a good team like Vermont. If the Saints are to improve, it will need to begin first and foremost at the line. There are positives to be taken from this game, but there is still work to be done as the team moves through its non conference schedule and gels before starting the conference grind.

The Saints will next square off against Navy in Annapolis, MD on Sunday, 11/11 at 2pm.

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