Saints Overcome Manhattan with Post Game Reaction

In a game the Saints really had to win to keep hopes alive of finishing in the top six, and avoiding the dreaded opening round of the MAAC tournament, the Saints overcame a late game Manhattan push to hold on for a hard fought 66-63 victory. The win moves Siena into a tie in the standings with Manhattan for seventh, and only one game behind Monday’s opponent Fairfield for the six spot.

A late three by Rob Poole gave the Saints a three point advantage heading into the locker room. The Saints, on the back of an eight point outburst by Trenity Burdine in the second half’s opening 90 seconds, went on a 10-0 run to start the second half to push their lead to a game high 13 points.

Manhattan countered with a smothering press and very physical defense to keep the Saints from scoring a field goal for over 7 minutes in the second half to push their way back into the game and hold a one point lead, 61-60 with 1:35 to go. On the next possession Rob Poole broke the Saints drought from the floor as he cut to the basket and hit a critical layup while drawing contact to put the Saints back on top 63-61.  In the closing seconds Rakeem Brookins stole a Michael Alvarado pass and was promptly fouled. He hit both free throws to ice the victory for the Saints.

The Saints went to the line 31 times in the game, hitting 27 shots, helping the Saints overcome a lackluster day from the floor where the team shot 39%.

Rob Poole scored his first career double double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Trenity Burdine continues to be a spark for the Saints, barely missing his first double double with 14 points and a career high 9 rebounds. Evan Hymes added 11 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds while Rakeem Brookins had a game high 18 points. While only scoring 66 points, the Saints offense and ball movement looks much improved with the addition of Burdine to the starting lineup.

This is a game the Saints would have lost only a month ago. Their free throw shooting, a key area of opportunity in the early months, has really shown improvement as shown by their 87% performance in this game. Rakeem Brookins was an outstanding 11-12 from the line. It proved to be the difference.

The Saints have also shown an improved mental moxie in the last two games, overcoming late pushes by opponents to hold onto victories. Early in the season the team lost several large leads and folded in the final minutes. In the previous two the Saints have fought to preserve the victory and overcome the frustration of an opponents run. Of special note in this contest, the Saints did this without Evan Hymes for the final four minutes as he fouled out.

Following the game, the Saints had the following comments:

Evan Hymes

“Credit definitely goes to the scouting. Coach Carter did a great job. We knew most of their plays. We knew with their pressure, they would try to throw a lot of guys at us. Me and Rahk play alot of minutes and they throw fresh bodies at us. We kept our heads. We handled their pressure..”

“We made an emphasis on not turning the ball over. Me and Rahk knew they were gonna come at us and we just went into the game with a mindset to not turn the ball over.”

“They are a real physical team but we just go out and compete. We don’t want to soften up to them. Me and Rahk are smaller guards but we’re going to fight no matter what.”

“We are right where we need to be, need to improve on some things. But, we just want to keep pushing. We’re right in the middle of the conference now.”

Rahk Brookins

“Playing against Manhattan you know it’s always going to be a scrappy game. We are going to fight to the end they are going to fight to the end. That’s just how they’re coached. Our mentality coming in was that we’ve gotta fight with them, fight against them. Don’t back down.”

“In the first game their pressure sped us up and turned us over a lot. What I was preaching to the guys today and in practice was that we’ve got to handle the pressure and if we handle the pressure we’ll be fine.”

“Me and Coach B talk. We have a connection. He knows I can’t play 40 minutes a game. He tried to get me and Evan out as much as possible. We have other guys. Rich came in and gave us some good minutes at the end. We just need to keep the productivity from everybody up.”

“Early in the season we were just shooting the ball. We are being more poised, being more patient. Manhattan, after five or six passes they start breaking down and you start getting lanes. That’s what we did. We took advantage of it.”

Trenity Burdine

“It feels good to be back out on the court and help my team in any way that I can. I just feel confident out there and I’m just happy to be back out there.”

“Coach B. always tells me I’ve got to play hard. So I’m going to come out on the court and play as hard as I can every minute. It’s helping my teammates out and I’m going to just keep doing it.”

“I just came out confident. My teammates were finding me and my shots were falling.”

“With the smaller lineup if we see OD gets double teamed we can make cuts. It’s helping us out a lot because we are four people on the perimeter that can drive.”

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