Siena Women Beat Xavier To Advance To WBI Semifinals

siena women huddle

With a tremendous defensive effort and a second half offensive surge, the sensational season continues as the Siena women rolled over Xavier of the Big East 69-49 in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday. With the win, the Saints move on to host Mercer in the semifinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational on Wednesday.

“Just an overall great team effort for us,” said Siena coach Ali Jaques. “To be able to come into a Big East opponent on their court and to play the way that we did, I’m just really proud.”

Siena led for most of what was a fairly low-scoring first. While shooting a decent 46% from the field, it was their defense which set the tone as they held Xavier to just 28% (14-49) shooting which allowed them to carry a 27-22 lead into the break.

The Saints exploded coming out of the locker room, scoring the first 15 points to open up a quick 20-point lead by the 16:19 mark. Siena shot 15-29 (52%) in the half while holding the Musketeers to 29% and were able to cruise to the program’s 4th postseason victory and the third over a Big East opponent.

“We made some shots today,” said Jaques. It really opened it up for us in the second half. I really liked our energy at halftime from our team. I didn’t have to say much to them. We just made a couple adjustments defensively.”

While the Saints were efficient on offense, their defense was solid throughout as well holding Xavier to 14-49 (28.6%) shooting from the field overall and just 3-15 (20%) from three-point range on their own home court. Siena scored 16 points off of 16 Xavier turnovers.

“A great overall effort defensively, we’ve been harping on it all year long,” Jaques said. “For us to be playing this stingy at this time of year, I’m just really proud of it, just all about the hustle and toughness.”

Siena was led in scoring by senior Tehresa Coles and Meghan Donohue who each had 13 points. Freshman Margot Hetzke added 11 points and 7 rebounds. Freshman Kollyns Scarbrough scored 10 points with 6 rebounds and Emia Willingham also tallied 10 points placing five Siena players in double figures for the first time in nine years. Senior Ida Krogh scored 7 points with a career-high 9 rebounds and 5 assists and Symone Kelly added 5 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists off the bench.

The Saints shot 6-14 (42.9%) from three-point range with Coles hitting 3, Krogh 2 and Kelly 1.

“I thought our seniors really carried us,” Jaques said. “Ida came out and hit some threes, T hit some threes. Any time we’re hitting threes, we’re gaining confidence on the offensive end. It allowed us to think we can compete with these guys.”

The Saints (21-12) have now won 12 more games than last season, tied for the third best improvement nationally and move to 12-3 on the road. The 12 road wins ties for fourth most in the country. Siena controlled the inside outrebounding the Musketeers 44-26, outscoring them in the paint 34-18 and leading them 16-2 in second chance points.

Jenna Crittendon led the Musketeers (18-15) with 9 points and 5 rebounds and Aliyah Zantt added 7 points and 5 steals. Xavier’s leading scorer Briana Glover was held to just two points on 1-4 shooting.

No. 3 seed Siena now advances to the final four of the WBI on Wednesday as they host Mercer, the No. 4 seed in the East Region, in the semifinals. Tip off at the Alumni Recreation Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“Our team’s been unbelievable to coach all year,” Jaques said. “They’ve been fun. Hopefully we’ll be able to put on an offensive display like we did tonight when we come back home. I know we’ll have our work cut out for us so we really need everybody back in Albany to come out and support us. We’re the last ones standing so come out and get some more basketball.”

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