The Siena Saints men’s basketball team played two close games in their opening weekend, losing to the Vermont Catamounts 54-53 at the Times Union Center on Friday night, and beating the Navy Midshipmen 54-49 in overtime at Alumi Hall in Annapolis, MD.

Also on Friday, Troy High senior Javion Ogunyemi officially declared his intention to join the Saints in 2013.

More after the jump…

Siena 53, Vermont 54 Friday 11/12

The Saints ran out to a 20-4 lead early in the contest, but poor shooting from the field and the free throw line doomed the Saints as they could not hold on to the lead down the stretch.

Evan Hymes and Rob Poole both picked up where they left off after their freshman campaigns.  Hymes was the leading scorer for the Saints, scoring 15 points on 4-12 shooting and making 5 of 6 from the charity stripe.  Poole continued doing a little bit of everything, scoring 13 points and grabbing 6 boards, while chipping in an assist and a steal.

Senior big man OD Anosike put up another trademark double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, but only made 2 of 11 attempts from the free throw line.

The Saints were able to get a lot of minutes for some of their freshman, including Ryan Oliver starting in place of Rahkeem Brookins, and Rich Audu and Brett Bisping.  Bisping was the most productive of the bunch, scoring 7 points.

Hymes had to leave the game in the second half, being carried off on a stretcher because of cramps, and was replaced by CBA grad and walk-on freshman Chris Leppanan who contributed productive minutes in place of the starting point guard before Hymes was able to return to the game.

While the offense was rolling early, inexperience and poor free throw shooting cost the Saints.  And while Vermont only scored 54 points, the Saints had difficulty protecting the lane and allowing penetration by the Catamounts, culminating in a driving layup by Vermont guard Sandro Carissimo to take a one point lead with 9 seconds left in the game.  The Saints drew up a play to try and get the ball inside to Anosike, but an entry pass by Audu was off the mark, and the Saints couldn’t get a shot off for the win.

Siena 54, Navy 49 Sunday 11/14

The Saints had a reversal of fortune two days later – while the team continued to struggle offensively, the defense continued to keep points off the board, and the Saints – still showing their youth, were able to hold on for a close win on the road.

OD Anosike posted yet another double-double in the win, scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, missing only one shot from the field and making 5 of his 8 free throw attempts.  Rob Poole had another characteristic outing, scoring 10 points, grabbing 9 boards, 3 assists and 3 steals.  The breakout performance on the team was highly touted recruit Imoh Silas, who sparked the team coming off the bench scoring 5 points, corralling 12 rebounds, and blocking 3 Midshipmen shots.  Evan Hymes scored 9 points, but did not shoot as well this contest, making only 2 of 16 attempts from the field, though he did chip in 4 of 5 free throw attempts.  Freshman Britt Bisping contributed well once again, scoring only 5 points and grabbing 3 boards, but provided quality minutes.

The Saints took a 6 point lead after two made free throw attempts by Hymes with 1:00 to go, but could not lock down the Midshipmen in the final minute.  Jerome Alexander sank a jumper with :20 left, and the Saints couldn’t find the net for the win, taking both teams to overtime.  Both teams struggled to score in the final period, but Anosike was able to sink the only field goal in OT for both teams, and the Saints converted on 5 of 6 free throws to secure the win.

Ogunyemi Commits

The Saints’ top recruit for 2013 commited to the Saints on Friday.  The 6’8″ Troy High senior fills out the Siena recruiting class for 2013, and was the main player recruited by coach Buonaguro and staff.  Ogunyemi chose Siena over James Madison, but also had interest from Buffalo, Delaware, and Iowa State.

Looking Ahead…

The Saints will travel to San Diego this weekend to compete in the NUCDF tournament.