ALBANY — The Siena College men’s basketball team sits in last place with a winless conference record and for now, without leading scorer Nico Clareth.
As the Saints (0-3 MAAC, 4-12 overall) emerged from the locker room for warmups ahead of Friday’s contest against Niagara, Clareth was nowhere to be found. A half-hour before tipoff, the College released a media statement stating that the junior guard would miss that game because of a “family issue” requiring his attention in his native Baltimore, Maryland.
“He’s got to go deal with some family stuff in Baltimore. I don’t mess with that. that’s family stuff,” Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said after the team lost 76 to 84 in front of 5,848. He went on to say Clareth’s status was “day-to-day.”
The Saints struggled mightily without Clareth, who leads the team in scoring with 15.1 points per game. Sophomore guard Ahsante Shivers got Siena on the board first, scoring a triple just 65 seconds into the contest. A minute and 37 seconds later, the Seat Pleasant, Maryland native drew his second foul and was relegated to the bench.
Niagara then went on a 12-0 run and led the Saints 12-3 with 16:24 remaining in the first half. By the 9 minute and 29-second mark, Siena had only managed to score eight points. Not 60 seconds later, freshman Jordan Horn nailed back-to-back three-pointers, putting Siena within five – 22-17.
At halftime, the Purple Eagles led by six – 37-31, while Horn led all scoring with 11.
“Jordan is a tough kid…he never quits, he never gives up, and he knows where he belongs,” said Patsos.
Horn, who as of Wednesday was battling flu-like symptoms, went off in the second half. With 7 minutes and 31 seconds remaining in the game, the Saint Paul, Minnesota native converted a breakaway layup after Shenendehowa grad Thomas Huerter Jr. rejected Niagara’s Matt Scott. The bucket tied Horn’s career high of 24 points, set against Memphis on Dec. 20.
“I was pretty bad. I had some stomach pain. I was vomiting,” said Horn, who missed Wednesday’s team practice. “I didn’t want to get anyone else sick at practice.”
Huerter, a Sophomore, also had a career night. The former New York State Class AA high school basketball champion put up a college career-best five points, seven rebounds, and two assists.
“I had a good week in practice. Coach told me that it was likely I’d get it [playing time]. When I got in, I just wanted to make something happen,” said Huerter, who averages just two minutes of playing time per game. “It’s tough when the minutes aren’t always there. It is easy to get discouraged and not put in the extra work and the hours that come in with work after practice.”
The forward is the eldest son of former Siena great and occasional local broadcaster, Thomas Huerter.
“One of Tom’s things is he doesn’t really have a position…I’m sure his dad probably talked to him,” said Patsos. “Tom Huerter, don’t be fooled. He can play and that’s not a fluke thing.”
Siena returns to the Times Union Center hardwood on Sunday. The team will again look for its first MAAC win of the season as they take on the Canisius Golden Griffs at 3 p.m. The game can be seen locally on My4-ALBANY (WNYA) and ESPN 3.
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