Saints Return Home For The Holidays To Beat Hofstra

marquis wright old spice

After spending 35 days on the road, Siena took advantage of a balanced scoring attack and a solid defensive effort to deliver an early Christmas present to their hometown fans defeating Hofstra 67-59 Monday night at the Times Union Center.

Four players finished in double figures for Siena (4-8). Rob Poole, Lavon Long and Maurice White each had 14 points and Brett Bisping added 10.

After exchanging baskets in the opening minutes, Siena took the lead with 16:51 to go in the first half on a Lavon Long layup and never trailed again. Long was solid scoring 10 of his 14 points in the first half. They led by as many as 13 with four minutes to go in the half but Hofstra closed the gap to 28-23 going into the break.

Maurice White was a catalyst for the Saints scoring 8 of his 14 points and grabbing all of his career-high 8 rebounds in the first half. Patsos acknowledged the value of the energy White brought to the court.

“Come on you saw it, Maurice White. You know what’s good? (Hofstra coach) Joe Mihalich came right up after the game and said that guy, #23 is you’re kind of player. I was like a proud parent. He was like, that’s the kind of guy you need in this league.”

“We came out a little sluggish the first half but we picked it up,” said White. “Everything just came to us so we started putting more points up. I just wanted to play my role, play defense and do what coach is telling me to do. It felt real good to come out and win. I was just ready to play. My energy was there. I did whatever I could to get the ball and get the win.”

In the second half, Siena came out with a bit more energy and picked things up offensively. After shooting 11-31 (35.5%) including 1-6 from three in the first 20 minutes, they shot a much improved 14-26 (53.8%) in the second half. Rob Poole came alive in the second half scoring 11 of his 14 points.

After opening the lead back to 9 with 16:43 remaining, things tightened up a bit down the stretch. Two big plays were key for Siena in the closing minutes. After a Hofstra three by Dion Nesmith cut the lead to two, 53-51 with 5:06 to go, Wright answered with a huge three of his own off an assist by Evan Hymes with four and a half minutes left.

“I thought the play of the game was, and this is why I really like Marquis Wright, they hit a big three and then we came back,” said Siena coach Jimmy Patsos. “Evan took the ball off the screen and hit Marquis and he hit a big three. That’s what I’m looking for. I’ve been doing this a long time. Everybody’s gonna get scored on. It’s what you do when you get a little of that adversity. I thought for Marquis to come back and make the three was huge.”

“He told Evan to move to the point and told me to move to the two,” said Wright. “He told me to catch it and shoot it. We swung it around and when I caught it. I was open and I shot it and it went in. If Coach Patsos is telling me to shoot it then I let it go.”

Then, at the two minute mark, Hymes converted an and-1 on a strong drive to the hoop to extend the lead to 61-55.

“Sometimes Evan forgets he’s 5-8,” Patsos said. “Seriously, I’m like they can’t guard you. He’s like they’re bigger. I’m like hello David and Goliath. You’re quicker, Vietnam, guerilla warfare versus like tank military battle. I got a little surreal in the huddle but I’m like come on Evan and he made a great play. He got in there and kicked it to him (Wright). Then he went to the basket and got fouled. He’s actually a really tough guard. His strength is his quickness and his (small) size so just play to it.”

“It was fun we had a lot of energy coming out,” said Hymes. “The fans come out and support us each night and being that we haven’t played at home in 35 days we owed it to the fans to come out and play hard and that’s what we did.

After missing some free throws early, Siena shot 10-12 in the second half, making their final 7 to help seal the win.

The Saints held Hofstra to just 59 points after giving up no less than 70 in any game this season. The Pride shot just 22-63 (34.9%) from the field and leading scorer Zeke Upshaw (20 ppg.) was held to just 7 points on 2-17 shooting including 1-10 from 3.

“What Poole did covering Zeke Upshaw and then also having 14 and 6 and 3 assists was just tremendous Poole’s been great. He’s been sick for a week and didn’t practice. He’s fun to coach,” said Patsos.

Jamall Robinson led Hofstra (3-7) with 16 points. Chris Jenkins and Dion Nesmith each scored 11.

Siena returns to the Times Union Center next Monday night to face Fordham of the Atlantic 10 at 7 p.m.

For more postgame comments from Siena coach Jimmy Patsos, click here.


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