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Siena Loses Overtime Heartbreaker To Iona In MAAC Final

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Siena battled to the bitter end in search of their sixth MAAC title but came up just short as they fell to Iona, 87-86 in overtime in the MAAC Championship Final. The crowd of 7,608 was electric and was treated to a classic battle between the two teams as the Gaels edged the Saints to win their 10th MAAC Championship.

Siena fans turned out in force in hopes of seeing Siena win the championship for the first time since 2010. A reported 1,723 students from Siena, which has a total school enrollment of 3139, provided an amazing sea of gold and their energy provided a great college basketball atmosphere.

Siena shot the ball well early and fed off the crowd to build an eight point lead, 23-15 with 11:45 to go in the first half. Then Iona went on one their signature offensive runs outscoring the Saints 17-1 over the next 5:40 to suddenly grab a 32-24 advantage.

Siena was able to weather the storm when Ahsante Shivers scored a much needed basket and his team rattled off 11 straight points capped by his follow-up dunk that reignited the fans. That allowed the Saints to push ahead and they carried a 37-35 lead into the break.

Iona sought to put away Siena early in the second half while they struggled to find their offense and the Saints found themselves with a 9-point deficit, 57-48 with just under twelve minutes to go in regulation. They dug in their heels and once again rattled off 11 straight points and when Marquis Wright knocked down a three-pointer at the 8:28 mark to make it 59-57 Siena, one could sense the game would go down to the wire.

Things were in fact tight in the following minutes and with just over two minutes to go, there was a mad scramble and the ball popped out to Wright who nailed a three to tie the game for the 10th time. Iona missed 3 straight shots on their next possession and Wright grabbed a monster rebound with just over a minute left.

Siena then turned the ball over and fouled Deyshonee Much with :42 on the clock who sank a pair of free throws to make it a two-point Iona lead. Wright missed a jumper but Brett Bisping snagged the offensive rebound and was fouled. He made both from the line with :16 left in regulation to tie it at 73 and the Saints got the defensive stop to send the game into overtime.

In overtime, each team scored on their first five possessions with both sides looking for a key stop on the defensive end. After Wright tied the game at 83 for the 16th time with 42 seconds to go, EJ Crawford put the Gaels back ahead 85-83 with under 30 seconds remaining.

With the clock winding down, Nico Clareth attempted a potential game-winning three point shot with 6 seconds left but it was off the mark. Jordan Washington grabbled the rebound and was fouled with 1 second left and he sealed it making both free throws. Wright knocked in a long three but it was one point short and he fell to his knees as the buzzer sounded.

Siena’s four seniors led the way topped by Wright with a game-high 29 points along with 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Brett Bisping finished with a double-double of 16 points, 14 rebounds, as did Javion Ogunyemi with 16 points and 10 rebounds along with 5 blocked shots. Lavon Long had 9 points, 11 boards and 3 assists.

Nico Clareth, who had turned in a heroic 27-point performance to lead the Saints in a semifinal upset victory over Monmouth the night before, struggled to find the magic as he shot just 1-9 on the night.

Free throws were a problem for the Saints (17-17) who shot just 19-30 (63.3%) while the Gaels were 18-21 (85.7%).

Siena’s control of the boards kept them in the game as they outrebounded Iona 52-34. The Saints scored 27 of their points on 28 offensive rebounds.

Iona (22-12) placed five players in double figures led by Washington with 21 points along with his 10 rebounds. Much finished with 18 points, Ricky McGill had 14, Crawford 12 and Schadrac Casimir 10.

“We started off friends and ended up family,” said an emotional Long after the game. ”I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to play four years of Siena basketball with.”

Postgame Comments Following Siena Loss To Iona In MAAC Final

Final Stats and Box Score

 All-tournament team:

Justin Robinson, Monmouth

Javion Ogunyemi, Siena

Marquis Wright, Siena

Nico Clareth, Siena

Brett Bisping, Siena

MVP Jordan Washington Iona

 

Postgame Press Conference

Highlights

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