4GuysinBlazers

Siena Enters Post Season on a High

A crowd of 8,148 came out to the Times Union Center to say goodbye to senior Steven Cruz and show their support for a resurgent Siena program. The team did not disappoint, controlling the game from start to finish in route to a commanding 70-54 victory over the Monmouth Hawks.

“I didn’t know if we’d ever get 8,000 people in this building this year,” said Jimmy Patsos following the game. “A lot of our wins this year have come because of the fans. I saw some ESPNU games with like nine people behind the bench. We have great fans. A meaningless game in the standings, to have 8,100 people, that’s just tremendous.”

Steven Cruz, a walk-on senior, earned the first start of his Siena career and received a standing ovation when introduced. Cruz wasted no time adding to his career stats as he dished an assist to Brett Bisping for the games first basket.

With the crowd loudly chanting “Cruuuuzzzz”, Cruz re-entered the game with three minutes remaining and scored his first point of the season, the 10th of his career, on a free throw with 2:31 remaining. Cruz finished with 1 point, 1 assist, and a career high 2 rebounds to the delight of the crowd and his teammates.

“It was a great experience,” said Cruz after the game. “Jimmy told me just be ready. He kept pumping me in practice and going after me and I was ready. With his energy and him criticizing me in practice trying to correct all my mistakes he was really getting on top of me. It was just a regular game for me starting for Marquis. It was awesome.”

Siena dominated the Hawks from start to finish and led by as many as 24 late in the second half. The team was led by strong performances by Brett Bisping, 17 points 7 rebounds, and Imoh Silas who put on a defensive display. Silas had six blocks to go with 11 rebounds and seven points.

“I thought Imoh Silas really saved us,” said Patsos. “For Imoh to get 11 rebounds and six blocks, they have got very good big guys. They’re a good young team. They’re coming off a game where they beat Niagara by 25. I thought we responded well.”

Junior Rob Poole had a quiet night from the floor, often drawing double to triple coverage, but secured a career milestone in the second half. Poole passed the 1,000 point mark for his career on a second half layup, becoming just the 40th Saint to reach the milestone. Poole joins teammate Evan Hymes who reached the mark earlier this month. Poole finished the game with four points and four assists.

“Congratulations to Poole on his 1,000 and one point,” said Patsos. “We already had the ball made up. Thank God he made it by 1. Him and Evan getting 1,000 points is great. That’s something that no one can take away from them. I know that the 15 wins and coming in fifth means more than their 1,000 points because they told me that. They act like that. That’s why it’s been fun coaching this team.”

Lavon Long and Evan Hymes each reached double figures with 10 and 15 points respectively.

The win gave the Saints their first four game winning streak since the 2009-10 season. The Saints finished the regular season at 15-16 and an 11-9 record in the MAAC, also both highs since the 09-10 season.

Siena enters the MAAC Tournament as the five seed after being selected to finish 10th in preseason polls. Siena will take on the Canisius Golden Griffins at 2:30pm on Saturday in a Quarterfinal matchup. In their last meeting Canisius topped the Saints in triple OT on the back of likely MAAC Player of the Year Billy Baron’s 40 point performance.

“We’re going into the postseason obviously thinking that we want to win,” said Brett Bisping. “That’s what everyone does. We’re playing well, Imoh’s playing well, and everyone’s playing well so we’re excited about it.”

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