The Siena Saints (9-10, 4-5,) riding high after knocking off the MAAC preseason #1 Iona Gaels on Monday night, welcome a team with heavy hearts as the Marist Red Foxes (7-12, 2-6) travel to the Times Union Center on Friday night. Tip-off is 7:00.
The Marist community is mourning the loss of two current students and one alumnus who died in an off-campus house fire last week. The school held a memorial service at McCann center on Wednesday. The game that Marist was supposed to play last Sunday against Fairfield has been postponed to the end of February due to the tragedy. Siena and Iona had a moment of silence before the game on Monday night, and there may be another before the game on Friday for Marist players, coaches and fans.
Siena will face Marist for the first time this year, which also gives them their first look at 6’5″ freshman Chavaughn Lewis, who the Saints recruited heavily last year but lost to Marist. Lewis is the second leading scorer on the team averaging 13 points and also grabbing 4 rebounds while tallying 26 minutes a game. He is being outpaced in the scoring column by 6’1″ junior guard Devin Price, who is scoring 14 points per game. 6’6″ junior guard Dorvell Carter is the other player averaging double digits in scoring, pitching in 12 points a game.
Marist enters the game having lost it’s last five contests but the team has shown that it can score averaging almost 70 points a game, 7 points better than the Saints. Their defense, however is giving up almost 76 points a game. The Saints on the other hand have become quite comfortable in head coach Mitch Buonaguro’s zone defense, holding teams to 66 points a night.
The Saint’s inside tandem of OD Anosike and Brandon Walters is going to need to continue shouldering the load in the paint – Anosike grabbed his 15th consecutive double double on Monday night scoring 17 points and corralling 15 rebounds, and although he only played 10 minutes on Monday night Walters has proven be a positive presence down low. Walters is averaging 7 points and 7 rebounds a game, and shooting better than 50% from the field. Marist is a good rebounding team as well so Siena will need to continue being productive on the glass, which has been one of their strengths all year.
Monday night’s win was highlighted by the senior leadership of Kyle Downey and the emergence of freshman Rob Poole. Downey took over the game late, scoring 16 points on the night, showing resolve and poise that the team had lacked trying to close out Loyola the game before. And Rob Poole continued to do a little bit of everything – he scored 14 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished six assists, and was perfect from the free throw line icing the game in the last minute. Poole has shown that he can perform in the big games, scoring 14 points and 13 points respectively in wins over Iona and Fairfield – he’s also boasting an assist to turnover ration of 20:5 over his last four games, which is even more impressive considering that he’s doing that during regular game play and not getting minutes at the point.
Although the Saints will continue to roll with six players most of the time, 6’7″ freshman forward Marcus Hopper saw his most extended action of the season playing 10 minutes against Iona, and Evan Hymes continues to produce while trying to play with a nagging wrist injury.
The Red Foxes will make the short trip up the Thruway to meet their rivals in the face of tragic circumstances, and will no doubt come out focused and looking for a victory. The Saints will look to try and get back to .500 on the season once again and keep crawling up the MAAC leaderboard. The Siena faithful, showing rousing support on Monday night, will no doubt be present once again to cheer on their Saints, who are entering the most favorable part of their conference schedule over the next couple of weeks. With the grit and determination these players show on a nightly basis the Saints are going to continue to try to gain momentum in to the twilight of the season.
- Siena has won their last 9 games against Marist, the longest stretch against any MAAC foe.
- The Saints have won their last 5 games in the friendly confines of the Times Union Center, and 6 of their last 7 (only loss in that time
was to Fordham.) The Saints have also shot 46% from the field and are averaging over 71 points per contest during their five game home winning streak.
- The Saints are unbeaten at home when scoring over 60 points per game.
- The Saints are second in the MAAC in field goal percentage defense at 39.8% a game.
- OD Anosike has taken over the lead in scoring on the team (14.9 ppg) and leads the country in rebounding (12.7) and double-doubles (15.)
- Siena will not face Iona or Loyola again during the regular season, and only have one game each left versus Manhattan and Fairfield.
- Siena starters are averaging 33 minutes per game, the most in the country.
- The Saints continue to lead the MAAC and is second in the country in fewest fouls committed per game (13.6.)
- Five of Siena’s nine losses have been by 7 points or less.