The Siena College Mens’ basketball team took the floor Tuesday to take on the Morehead State Eagles in the College Basketball Invitational(CBI). The CBI is a post-season tournament designed to give teams that didn’t get a ticket to the BIG dance (NCAA Tournament) a shot to continue their seasons. On the line was a ticket to the quarterfinals, and thus keeping their season alive. There is always one loser, and tonight it was Siena that fell to Morehead State 84-80.
Siena started things off colder than ice and early into it found themselves down 10 points. Following a Siena timeout and a Nico Clareth 3 ball, the Saints had cut the deficit to just 7 (5-12), as the game entered its first TV timeout with 15:04 to play in the opening half. Just as the Saints had taken control, Morehead went on a 4-0 run, until a 3 ball from Ryan Oliver gave the Saint back their momentum. What followed was a dog fight throughout the remainder of the half. With Ryan Oliver leading the way (14 points), the Saints would enter the second half down by just 1 (44-43). The difference maker for the Saints in the opening half was 3 point shooting, as the Saints sunk 21 of their 43 total halftime points from beyond the arc. The Saints were going to have to clean things up from the free-throw line, shooting only 8 for 13 (61%) in the first half.
In the second half with things going back and forth, it was clear this one was going to come down to the last position. One thing was for sure, the Saints had to play smarter basketball following an unfortunate technical foul for the Saints Brett Bisping. Bisping didn’t punch anyone in the face or tell a ref to go back to Footlocker or anything like that, but fell victim to the hanging on the rim rule after going up for a dunk. Bisping would recover on the next possession putting 1 of 2 in from the line. More proof that this one was going to be a dog fight right down to the end could be found in the 16 lead changes and 8 ties in the third quarter. At the halfway mark of the final half, the Saints were down by 7 (68-61). Marquis Wright changed everything, putting up a jumper that cut the Morehead State lead to just 2 (65-63).
With about 7 minutes remaining, Siena’s Nico Clareth became the all time leading freshman scorer in Siena history. After putting one in from beyond the arc, then topping it off with a layup, the Saints had cut the Morehead lead back to just 1(69-68).
With under 4 minutes to play the Saints were down 5, after committing their 18th turnover. It would get worse. With 2:36 remaining, the Saints were forced to call timeout, down 7 (77-70). This put the Saints in desperation mode and they came out swinging, cutting the Morehead lead to just 4 (79 -75) with 56.6 seconds to play.
Morehead picked the lead up to 6, sinking 2 shots from the charity stripe. After an and 1 from Marquis Wright the Saints were down just 3 (81-78) with 45 seconds to play.
Fast forward to 17 seconds left with Morehead at the line shooting 2. They missed the first but made the second, giving them a 4 point lead. Siena did get the ball back but threw it away, ending their season with a hard fought loss 84-80.
The Saints finished the season with 21-13 record. Look for them to be an even better team next year.