Siena Women Beat Iona To March Into MAAC Semifinals

hetzke marist

In a season full of surprises, the Siena women pulled off yet another as they displayed a defensive gem and contained the league’s all-time leading scorer on the way to a 71-61 win over Iona in the MAAC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday. The Saints advance to the semifinals where they will face Quinnipiac on Sunday.

Three-time MAAC Player of the Year and the nation’s third leading scorer (24. ppg.) Damika Martinez was the focus of the Saints’ defense going in. They knew they would have to contain her and they did just that allowing the talented guard to score just 12 points on 4-13 shooting from the field. Martinez finishes her outstanding career with 2,581 career points and a MAAC record 311 three-pointers. The 5th seeded Saints also held No. 4 seed Iona to 8 points below their team average.

“Definitely one of our strengths is our ability to really get after it and really give it our all,” said Siena senior Tehresa Coles.  “Defense is something that our coaches were harping on us the past couple weeks and I think we’ve improved on it.”

The Saints came out on fire to start the game and before the Gaels knew what hit them, Siena led 14-2 with 14;45 to go in the first half. The Gaels picked away at the lead however and pulled ahead in the final few minutes to carry a 29-25 lead into the locker room. The Saints had to feel good holding Martinez to 5 first half points on 2-9 shooting.

In the second half, the two teams battled, each leading for segments while refusing to give in. The Gaels largest lead was 7 but Siena erased that with an 11-0 run to show they meant business. Iona twice took the lead in the final six minutes but each time the Saints responded and showed they had come to win. They scored on key possessions and sank clutch free throws down the stretch to pull off the ten point victory, their 19th of the season.

Freshman Margot Hetzke, who soon after the game was announced as the MAAC Rookie of the Year, finished with a game-high 20 points along with 8 rebounds. Senior Tehresa Coles scored 17 points and anchored the sensational Saints defense. She was named MAAC Defensive Player of the Year later in the evening. Senior point guard Ida Krogh added 14 points with a career-high 8 rebounds along with 3 assists.

Siena (19-11)  won its MAAC Tournament opener for the sixth year in a row and fourth straight as the lower seed. They advance to the semifinals for the fourth time in five years and 17th time in their 26 MAAC Tournament appearances. It was their fifth straight win, the Saint’s longest winning streak in four years.

The Saints did what they do well, controlled the inside and got to the free throw line. They outscored Iona 34-24 in the paint and outrebounded them 43-29 for the game and 26-8 in the second half. Siena made 24 of 30  free throws while the Gaels were just 9-10.

“To be able to have the second half that we did from a rebounding standpoint and from a three free-throw standpoint, getting back to how we’ve been successful, getting the ball inside and finishing and getting to the free-throw line, being tough inside that played in our favor tonight,” said Siena coach Ali Jaques.

All-MAAC First teamer Joy Adams finished with 13 points to lead Iona who finishes their season at 15-15. Martinez handed out a career-high 9 assists, Philecia Gilmore added 12 points and Aaliyah Robinson had 10. The Gaels were held to just 27-57 (38.6%) shooting from the field.

Siena continues its surprising season against the MAAC Regular Season Champions, and No. 1 seed, Quinnipiac in the semifinals Sunday at 11 a.m. on ESPN3.

For more postgame comments, Click Here: Postgame Comments Following Siena Women’s Win Over Iona

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