ALBANY — After a ten day break, the Siena Saints returned to the Times Union Center to play the College of Charleston Cougars. After a tightly contested first half, the Saints were outmatched in the second, losing 83-58.
“When you challenge a very good offensive team like this is you really get to see where you are. In the first half I thought we were pretty good but we weren’t able to keep that consistent in the second half,” said Coach Jamion Christian after the game.
Coming out of the locker room, the Saints executed their game plan to perfection. Within the first five minutes Evan Fisher, who had just returned from injury. He had the first six points for Siena, both shots were made while being fouled. By the end of the sixteenth minute, Jarrell Brantley, one of Charleston’s primary offensive weapons already had two fouls on him. He did not get to play the rest of the first half.
Coach Christian said, “When we’re able to move the ball around we are a very tough team to play against. One thing they did a great job of was using their quickness to push Jalen (Pickett) off of spots, but when we have both of these guys (Pickett and Fisher) out there we are really tough to stop.”
With Fisher controlling the post, the Saints had plenty of room to get hot from behind the arc early on in the game. Kevin Degnan, Kadeem Smithen, and Georges Darwiche each hit three pointers consecutively to start the game three for four from deep. This success was short lived as the Saints missed their next thirteen threes.
“Never too many threes. This is a three versus two game as they are one of the best teams in the country in scoring inside. So you have to shoot well from the outside,” said Coach Christian.
Defensively Siena stayed competitive with Charleston after Brantley left the game. The Saints won the turnover battle recording two more steals and two more blocks than the Cougars. So despite their rough half shooting, Siena stayed within five points at halftime.
The College of Charlestown came out of the halftime intermission with fresh legs and were bent on dominating the defensive end of the court. The Cougars held the Saints to tough contested shots which kept them off of the board for as much as three or four minutes at a time. They also dominated the turnover battle, forcing eight with six of them on steals.
Once Jarrell Brantley reentered the game, it was over. After a couple of minutes to warm up Brantley caught fire. He hit five straight three pointers in the second half, each one more contested than the last. After not even taking a shot in the first half, Brantley went eight for eight to score 23 points.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in that locker room that are eager and anxious to play. But we have to do a great job of putting them in a position to win. I didn’t do a great job of that tonight
Siena (4-7) will now travel to Holy Cross for their last non conference road game of the year.