HAMDEN, CONN — No matter how well the Siena Saints played in their Wednesday night matchup against the Quinnipiac Bobcats, they knew the Bobcats would never be out of it because of their impressive 3-point shooting. Prior to the game, the Bobcats were ranked seventh in the country with 10.1 3-pointers per game.
The Bobcats hit 14 3-pointers in an attempt to rally past the Saints after falling behind for most of the game. In the end, the Saints never strayed away from the game-plan of going down-low, and it was good enough for them to survive a 84-77 victory over the Bobcats at People’s United Center. This win extends the Saints’ winning streak to six games.
“We did not exactly play well on defense,” Siena coach Carmen Maciariello said after the Saints improved to 16-10 overall this season and 12-5 in conference play. “We allowed Quinnipiac to hit 14 3-pointers. I love our composure, though. It’s special to always win on the road.”
With the Bobcats (12-15, 7-10) and Saints tied at 55 in the second half, the Saints stepped up by going on a 17-4 run that put the game away for good at 72-59.
Jordan King started the run with a 3-pointer to give Siena a 58-55 lead after Matt Balanc could not execute the layup that would give the Bobcats the lead. Donald Carey and Sammy Friday made layups, and Matt Hein hit a three-pointer. Manny Camper (19 points) scored on a layup followed by Carey hitting a 3 and making a jump shot to finish the run.
“Our guys are confident, and sometimes we can be overconfident to the point I have to talk to them,” Maciariello said about his team’s resolve when the Bobcats rallied to tie the game.
Carey explained how the Saints found a way to hold off the Bobcats.
“We stayed level-headed,” Carey said after scoring 18 points. “We stayed with our game plan by executing in the paint. I was able to be in a position for guys to give me the ball.”
Quinnipiac tried one more time to make a run after trailing 74-62. Sharpshooter Rich Kelly (game-high 26 points) hit a 3-pointer, and Aaron Falzon shot a 3-pointer followed by Kelly hitting a jumper to cut the deficit to 74-70.
But there was King again in the clutch. He beat Quinnipiac at its game by hitting a 3-point dagger to give the Saints a 77-70 lead.
“Jordan is fearless,” Maciariello said of his freshman guard. “I believe in him. He has so much confidence in himself.”
King is not surprised about being clutch.
“I practiced my shot all the time,” he said after scoring nine points. “My guys found me in my open shot. They trust me when I am in an open position.”
Jalen Pickett (17 points), Elijah Burns (10 points), Carey and Camper dealt with the tough task of guarding Quinnipiac’s shooters.
“These guys are talented shooters,” Maciariello said of Quinnipiac. “They are good ball-handlers. (Quinnipiac head coach) Baker (Dunleavy) found guys who are big, long and strong in Falzon, Kelly and (Jacob) Rigoni.”
This win gives the Saints a first-round bye in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament coming up in Atlantic City, and they keep pace with St. Peter’s in a two-way tie for first place in the MAAC, but this was not on Maciariello’s mind.
“I’m not concerned about seeding,” he said. “I’m not concerned about the standings. I want this team to put 40 good minutes. This team has yet to do that.”
The Saints can get that opportunity to meet their head coach’s requirement on Friday evening when they complete their three-game road trip against Marist.
“We’re going to keep it going,” Maciariello said. “We will workout and watch film at Poughkeepsie (Thursday).”