ALBANY — It took having to hold off a charge in the final minutes, but it was a tale of two halves for Siena on Thursday night at the Times Union Center, using a strong second frame to beat Marist by a final tally of 68-65.
Down four at the half and with Marist shooting lights-out from the perimeter, Siena needed to turn their defense around to have a chance to win. Daniel Knudsen had been masterful for the Red Foxes in the first frame, scoring 15 points and hitting four from beyond the arc. He needed to be slowed down as well.
At the start of the second half, Siena was quick to turn things in their favor. It took under four minutes for them to complete an eight-point turnaround and take a four-point lead. A few minutes after that, the Saints began to pull away thanks to a 13-2 run that included many inside scores from Prince Oduro, who scored nine of his 11 points during that stretch.
“My teammates have a lot of confidence in me, feeding me the ball, so I just try to make buckets for them,” Oduro said.
Before that run, it had been anyone’s game for the entire way, as the lead changed hands four times in the first half and three more times in the first six minutes of the second half. Marist began to make a run of their own following Siena pulling out to their biggest lead of the night at 11. They came as close as three points with just over a minute to play, but it did not end how they wanted it to.
A key part of Siena’s play in the second half was their perimeter defense, as Marist shot 9-13 from three in the first half and were held to 2-5 in the second half. Knudsen also slowed down a lot, being held to just two points in the second half.
“In the second half I thought we wore them out, and that’s why they missed some,” Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said.
Marist head coach Mike Maker added, “We try to space the floor, and the three-ball is something that’s a weapon for us. When people choose to run us off the three-point line, we have to either throw it inside or drive it, and when we drive it, we need to finish or get fouled, and we didn’t do that today.”
Additionally, both teams were for the most part minus a key player. Marist’s leading scorer Brian Parker did not play due to an injured ankle, and Siena’s Ahsante Shivers was held to one minute of game action due to illness.
Marist falls to 2-4 in MAAC play and 4-14 overall. They will be back in action on Saturday, taking on Rider on the road at 7 p.m.
Siena is now 2-5 in conference play and 6-14 overall. Next, they kick off a two-game road trip with tilts against Quinnipiac on Sunday at 2 p.m. followed by a game against Monmouth on Thursday, January 25. They return home on Monday, January 29 against St. Peter’s. Game time is set for 7 p.m.