Siena Knocks Off Monmouth In MAAC Semifinal


In an almost unbelievable performance, sophomore Nico Clareth came back from an ankle injury and scored 27 second-half points to lead Siena to a dramatic comeback win, 89-85 over Monmouth in the MAAC Championship semifinal on Sunday. As a team, the Saints scored a remarkable 64 second-half points to rally past the regular season champions.

The Saints will face #3 seed Iona who knocked out #2 seed Saint Peter’s, 73-65 in the other semifinal game.

After missing the quarterfinal game on Saturday, Clareth was a game time decision and while he tried to give it a go early in the first half, he played just 3 minutes and was clearly hobbled as he returned to the bench in frustration. It seemed like his night and possibly his season was over, as Monmouth went on a 9-0 run to close out the half and the Saints trailed to the #1 seeded Hawks, 39-25.

Early in the second half, Monmouth’s lead grew to 17 with the score 44-27. Siena coach Jimmy Patsos soon after sent Clareth to the scorer’s table to check in and give it another try with 17:33 to go in the game. Clareth promptly knocked down a pair of three-pointers and helped breathe new life into the Saints as the Times Union Center crowed erupted.

With a renewed energy after a quick turnaround from the previous night’s game, Siena battled nearly all the way back when Javion Ogunyemi converted a three-point play to pull his team within one, 55-54 with 11:27 to go. Monmouth held on to the narrow lead until freshman Ahsante Shivers scored on a driving lay up to make it 65-64 Siena with seven and a half minutes left.

The two teams exchanged the lead eight times over the next four minutes until a pair of Brett Bisping free throws put the Saints ahead for good with 4:30 on the clock. Still it was close in the following minutes and a Ja’lon Hornbeak jumper cut Siena’s lead to one, 82-81 with 45 seconds left.

Monmouth fouled Wright who made one of two from the line. Then after a Lavon Long steal, Ogunyemi made a pair of free throws and Justin Robinson quickly raced the length of the court and layed it in with :16 to go. Clareth was fouled and made both and once again Robinson answered to make it a two-point game with 6 seconds left. Ogunyemi was then fouled and he calmly sank two more from the line to seal the win and send Siena into the final on Monday.

Clareth’s 27 points came on 8-11 shooting from the field including 7-9 from three-point range. He was 4-4 from the free throw line and added 4 rebounds. Javion Ogunyemi scored 21 points and Marquis Wright had 20 along with 8 assists and 4 boards. Brett Bisping had 13 points with 8 rebounds and Lavon Long, while held scoreless, played a key role defensively on Robinson, the MAAC Player of the Year.

Robinson who led Monmouth (27-6) with 22 points on 9-20 shooting was held to just 4 points in the first half. Although it was not the 40-point performance he turned in last time he played at the TUC, he was a factor late in helping to keep it close. Four other players scored in double figures for the Hawks. Josh James scored 14, Je’lon Hornbeak 13, Austin Tilghman 11, and Chris Brady added 10.

Siena moves to 17-16 on the season as they advance their search for their sixth MAAC title. Tip off against Iona is at 9 p.m. on Monday.


Box Score and Final Stats

 Postgame Comments Following Siena Semifinal Win Over Monmouth

Also, find out : What Happened At Half Time?



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