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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Siena Men’s Basketball: Saints’ Major Rally Against Mount St. Mary’s Ends in Defeat, Remaining at Bottom Rank

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ALBANY — The Siena men’s basketball team displayed a renewed vigor during their Sunday afternoon game.

Despite their spirited⁣ performance, the season continued its usual course, ​culminating in ​another defeat.

Trailing by 16 ⁤with just over 11 minutes remaining, the Saints rallied impressively to close the gap ‌to three against Mount St. Mary’s with 2:48 left on the clock. However, they failed to capitalize on‌ some crucial ⁤offensive opportunities towards the ‍end, resulting in a 68-61 loss at MVP Arena.

With a 2-9 record⁣ in the MAAC, Siena shares the bottom ‌spot ‌with⁢ Manhattan. Their overall record stands at a dismal 3-19, leaving them on the brink of their sixth⁤ 20-loss season since‌ the program​ ascended‌ to Division I in 1976-77.

The Saints were on the verge of delaying that‌ unfortunate milestone‍ for at least one more game, but consecutive turnovers in the final ⁢37 seconds while⁢ attempting to ⁣reduce the Mountaineers’ slim lead proved‌ costly.

“Despite spending a ⁤significant ⁣amount of time on the court, we demonstrated resilience,” said‍ head coach Carm ‍Maciariello. “I believe we displayed the necessary fighting spirit.”

Michael Eley, a sophomore who has been battling a hamstring injury, was the top⁢ scorer for Siena with 24 points. However, Sean Durugordon, the team’s leading⁢ scorer,​ had a tough day on offense, managing to score only eight points from three successful shots out⁤ of 18 attempts.

Michael Ojo,⁤ a freshman forward‍ playing his second game after recovering‍ from⁣ a concussion, brought a‍ much-needed energy to the team. Despite some foul trouble,⁤ he scored 14 points, grabbed ‍six rebounds, and blocked three shots in 24 minutes.

With just over seven minutes remaining, ​Siena launched⁣ an 11-4 run ‌to close the gap to ⁤62-59 with 2:48 left.

Ojo scored his fourth‍ 3-pointer from as many attempts ⁤on a bank shot that almost rimmed out,⁢ while Eley followed up​ with ⁤a ​breakaway dunk ⁢off a turnover​ to reduce ⁤the⁣ deficit to 58-53.

Two free throws ‍by Ojo and⁢ a tough drive by Durugordon brought the score ‌to 62-59, but the Mountaineers (5-6, 9-13) managed to keep Siena at⁤ arm’s length. De’Shayne Montgomery, who had been relatively quiet throughout the game, made a⁤ stepback jumper, and Dakota ‌Leffew added two free throws to extend their lead ‍to 66-59 with 32.1 seconds remaining.

“I was really thrilled,” ‍Eley said, referring to Ojo’s banked ‌3-pointer.⁢ “Ojo provided us with ⁢a lot of momentum in this game. That was a crucial shot. It looked like it was going to miss, but then it went in, so ⁤it was a fantastic​ shot.

“Towards the end of the game, we didn’t ⁣execute ‍as we had planned. There’s always scope for improvement.”

“I believe I was placed in a good position to do what ‍the team needed me to do,” Ojo ‌said.

His ​contributions included a massive block on Dakota Leffew’s dunk in transition​ with 1:38 left and Siena‌ still⁢ trailing 62-59.

“Defense has always‌ been ‍my strong suit, ⁢especially going for blocks and⁤ steals,” Ojo said. “I got ​four fouls, which had⁣ me benched for a while, ⁤but​ coach put me back⁣ in⁢ the game, ‍and I just did what coach needed me to do to help us fight back.”

“I know Michael cares, and⁤ he brings ⁤us energy,” Maciariello ‌said. “I thought we needed his toughness and ​physicality. I believe he’s a smart player and ‌can handle three fouls.”

Siena managed​ to‍ convert just ⁣36.1% of its‍ field goal attempts, with Durugordon’s performance significantly affecting that‌ statistic.

Despite averaging​ 23.2 points per game, he had⁣ only two made free throws at halftime and didn’t score his first basket until early in the second half, reducing the deficit to 43-35.

He missed all five of his 3-point attempts.

“They did ⁢a good job on ‍him, [Joshua] Reaves did a‌ good job on him,” Maciariello said. “He usually makes some of the shots he missed, especially around the rim. It just wasn’t his day.

“For the most part we took care of the basketball, but the biggest thing now ⁢is consistency. We can’t have one‌ game where ‌we shoot good free throws, and ⁢then not in the next, or one game ‍we ⁢take ​care ‌of the ball, and then not in the next, or one game we block out, and then not in the next. We need to ⁤get everyone on the same ⁢page, get everyone ​healthy and we need‍ to keep​ working at it.”

The Saints, who will play at home again on Thursday night against Marist,‍ were without guards Zek Tekin and Michael Evbagharu due to⁤ injuries.

MOUNT ST. ‌MARY’S

Adebayo 6-13 3-3 16, ​Tinsley 0-0 0-0 0, Cordilia 2-5 0-0 4, Leffew‌ 4-14‍ 4-6 13, Reaves 1-6 2-2 5, Montgomery 3-6 2-6‍ 8, Hobbs 3-4⁢ 0-0 8, Ard 2-5 2-4 6, Jessamy 1-2 6-6⁣ 8, Barton⁤ 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-55 19-27 ​68.

SIENA

Durugordon 3-18 2-2 8, Emejuru 5-7 1-5 11, Ojo ⁤4-7 2-2 ​14, Birgisson 0-3 2-4 2, Courtney 0-3 0-0 0, Eley 9-20 3-5 ‌24, Frazier 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Winters 0-1‌ 0-0 0, Gribben 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 22-61 10-18 61.

Halftime: Mount St. Mary’s 43, Siena 31. 3-point goals: Mount St. Mary’s 5-14 (Adebayo ⁢1-2, Leffew 1-2, Reaves 1-4, Hobbs 2-3, Ard 0-2); Siena 7-17 (Durugordon 0-5, Ojo 4-4, Birgisson 0-1, Courtney 0-1, Eley 3-5, Winters 0-1). Rebounds: Mount St. Mary’s 40​ (Leffew 9); Siena 38 (Durugordon 9). Assists: Mount St. Mary’s 8 (Adebayo,​ Leffew,⁣ Hobbs 2); Siena 11⁤ (Birgisson 3). Turnovers:‌ Mount St. Mary’s 10; Siena 13. Total fouls:‍ Mount St. Mary’s 13; ⁣Siena: ​18. Fouled out: Birgisson. Attendance: 5,730.

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Beckett Nielson
Beckett Nielson
Transitioning from a collegiate athlete to a sports journalist, Beckett O’Neal channels his passion for sports into engaging stories. A Boston College graduate, Beckett specializes in local sports coverage, from high school heroes to regional professional teams, providing in-depth analysis and an athlete's insight.
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