4GuysinBlazers

Siena Opens MAAC Play With Win At Niagara

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After fighting through a challenging non-conference schedule, Siena kicked off the MAAC conference slate in strong fashion Friday night defeating Niagara, the defending regular season champions, on the road 84-71. The Saints never trailed and used a 12-0 run in the middle of the first half to surge out in front for good.

Siena coach Jimmy Patsos has been preaching that the non-league games were all about preparing for the MAAC. After leading 47-35 at the half, Patsos was able to avoid his team slumping after the break. His team appeared to be firing on all cylinders for the most part, leading by as many as 20 points in the second half.

“We came out and played well,” said Patsos. “That was for the Siena community. We were 2-7. The Siena community’s been behind us. We had a tough schedule and everybody knows that, but they see 2-7 and they could have been negative. They’ve been positive and great.”

Four Siena players finished in double figures with Rob Poole leading the way with a game-high 21 points on 4-6 three pointers, along with 8 rebounds. Evan Hymes scored 14 points and Lavon Long also scored 14 in addition to 7 rebounds. Brett Bisping added 10.

“Nobody’s really a superstar here,” Patsos said. “I’m just proud of the kids. The kids did a great job. I thought Lavon and Rob Poole and everybody really played well. Brett Bisping really struggled then all the sudden I kinda yelled at him a little and he really turned it on. I just wanted to hug him. He really played so well. Imoh Silas was steady. It’s a great win. Poole’s been tremendous.”

“Both teams had great energy,” said Long. “It was a great win. With all the hard competition we had it really prepared us for this game. We are always gonna come out hard, always looking to win and we always have a good group effort.”

Patsos had said that holding Niagara guard Antoine Mason, the nation’s leading scorer (30.1ppg.), within 20 points was a key to the game. They were able to hold him to 18 points, more than 12 below his average.

“I said we better engage with this guy cause he’ll take it to ya,” said Patsos. “I kind of thought, let’s run a couple different people and get into him. Let’s engage him and see what he does and maybe get him off his rhythm a little. It was a group effort.”

“Pretty much whoever was closest guarded him,” said Long. “We had to let someone else get us.”

Rayvon Harris added 15 points and Ramone Snowden had 11 points and seven rebounds for the Purple Eagles (1-8, 0-1).

Prior to tonight’s matchup, Siena (3-7, 1-0) had dropped 18 of their last 20 MAAC road games. Patsos was pleased with his team’s effort and grateful for starting off the MAAC with a win.

“The Siena community deserves to be 1-0 cause they’ve been supporting us and really been behind us,” Patsos said. “I just wanna say this was for them. I know they’ve been patient and putting up with a lot and had to deal with me and that’s not always easy. That win was for them and now we gotta get Sunday’s (game vs. Canisius) for them.”

The Saints will look to complete their Western New York trip with a win when they head over to take on Canisius on Sunday. Tip off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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