4GuysinBlazers

Saints Seal Dramatic Win Over Niagara

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Siena was able to contain the nation’s leading scorer and make the key plays when it mattered most as they beat Niagara, 66-62 Thursday night at the Times Union Center. It was a tight game throughout with 13 ties and 16 lead changes but Siena once again protected its home court to improve to 10-12, 6-5 in the MAAC.

“I’m happy we won. In the MAAC you’re happy when you get a win,” said Siena coach Jimmy Patsos. “I don’t care how we played. I don’t care if the start was late. Coming off a road win, most teams would have lost that game and they wouldn’t lose it.”

After a highly-contested opening half, Siena struggled to get things going in the early going out of the break. But, with Niagara leading by six points, a pair of three-pointers by Evan Hymes and Rich Audu ignited the crowd of 5,772 as the score evened, 41-41 with 10:48 to go.

“We don’t win that game without Rich Audu, said Patsos. “I just thought we were flat. Rich Audu said, give me a chance coach. I’ll get emotional. I said good, get in there. The guy makes a three, plays good D. Tonight, emotionally Rich Audu wins that game for us.”

“Robbie just made a great play,” said Audu. “He drew a double team and you just have to hit open shots.”

Things remained tight for the rest of the game as neither team could pull away. Niagara’s prolific scorer Antoine Mason hit a jumper with a minute to go giving the Purple Eagles a one point lead, 61-59. Siena’s Rob Poole kicked the ball to an open Evan Hymes who nailed the go-ahead three-pointer with 38 seconds remaining to retake the lead 62-61.

After a missed 3-pointer by Niagara, Marquis Wright was fouled and made one of two free throws. On the next possession Niagara’s Wesley Myers was fouled and made just one of two as well and the Saints held a 1-point lead with 12 seconds to go. On the out-of-bounds play, Lavon Long threw a touchdown pass to a streaking Wright right who layed it in and was fouled with 10 seconds to go. After Niagara called a time out in an attempt to ice the freshman point guard, Wright sank the free throw to seal the victory.

“Jimmy went nuts, said Poole. “He was telling him, ‘They are trying to ice you and you better take this personal.’ And, he did. He came out and hit the shot. I knew the whole time he was gonna hit it. It was a big shot for ‘Quis.”

Siena was led by Poole who finished with 15 points including 3-6 from three along with 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Hymes finished with 12 as did Wright who also added 4 assists. Brett Bisping scored 8 points including a two-handed dunk off a feed from Imoh Silas in the game’s opening basket followed by a driving one-handed slam soon after. He also pulled down 7 boards and had 2 blocks. Long added 7 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds.

Niagara’s Mason who entered the game with a nation-leading 27.4 points per game finished with 18 points on 4-10 from the field and just 1-5 from beyond the arc. He was 9-13 from the free throw line. Marcus Ware also scored 18 for the Purple Eagles (6-16, 3-8) and Rayvon Harris added 11.

“He (Mason) does a great job of getting to the line, but I like my guy that had 15 on him, Rob Poole,” said Patsos. “Rob Poole was guarding him and he’s not afraid to guard a guy and then go back and go at him. I’m really impressed with that.”

For more postgame comments from Jimmy Patsos, Marquis Wright, Rich Audu, Evan Hymes, Brett Bisping and Rob Poole, Click Here.

The Saints will look to continue their three-game winning streak on Saturday as the return home to face Quinnpiac. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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