A seventh loss by five points or fewer gave Marist its fifth loss in six games as Siena won 52-50 over the Red Foxes on sophomore guard Jalen Pickett’s buzzer-beating jump shot.
“Guys are getting really up in us,” Marist head coach John Dunne said. “We just have to be ready for what’s coming with the intensity. Sometimes teams won’t allow you to run your offense, they just make you make plays.”
Plenty of Siena fans made the trek down to Poughkeepsie to watch the Saints win a nail-biter and the final game of their three-game road trip. The McCann Center was filled with combatting cheers for both programs in a tale of two halves as both teams won each half by double digits. It was an electric atmosphere that summed up the rivalry between the two schools in perfect fashion.
“That game right there gets you beat in Atlantic City,” Siena head coach Carm Maciariello said. “That game ends your season and you’re feeling sorry for yourself because you have a chance to do something special and you don’t execute the game plan.”
Marist entered the evening’s contest at 6-11 in the MAAC, sitting in tenth place only ahead of Canisius. The Red Foxes, having lost in four of their last five, hoped for a rebound after a road loss to Manhattan just two nights ago. Siena sat atop the conference at 12-5, winning nine of their last ten games heading into the matchup. They visited Poughkeepsie for their last stop on a three-game road trip, a stretch where they won their fifth and sixth straight. The Saints have had struggles away from home this season, though, with a 3-10 record in road games.
A slow start for Marist let Siena start the game on an 8-0 run, the second consecutive slow start for the Red Foxes after allowing an 11-0 run to start the game against Manhattan on Wednesday. Siena’s hot start consisted of six-for-nine shooting from the field in the game’s first seven minutes. The Saints stretched the lead to 15 by the end of the half, taking a 33-18 advantage to the locker room. Tobias Sjoberg hit his season-high late in the first half with eight points on a perfect four-for-four shooting. The rest of his teammates combined to shoot just four-for-23 from the field.
“We just have to do a better job of understanding what the game is going to be like from the tip,” Dunne said. “They’re a physical team.”
Marist was unable to convert from beyond the arc in the first half, not hitting their first three until early in the second half. Marist slowly cut into the deficit to eventually tie the game on a Matt Herasme corner three with 24 seconds to play. Siena gave the ball to Jalen Pickett for its final possession; he hit a fadeaway elbow jump shot at the buzzer to win it for the Saints. The Red Foxes never led in the defeat.
“The game plan stayed the same in the second half,” Herasme said. “Coach pretty much challenged us and we responded like we’ve done a bunch of times this year. We got more movement, we played with poise, and we made the plays that we should be making.”
Three Red Foxes were able to reach double figures on Friday night. Both Jordan Jones and Tobias Sjoberg paced the team with 12 points each and a combined ten-for-13 from the field while Herasme contributed with 11. Freshman guard Tyler Sagl continued to struggle on offense with no shot attempts in the outing. The Toronto native had just one shot attempt in Marist’s last two games.
“Tobi is much improved since my first day here,” Dunne said. “When he plays with poise, he can score a little bit inside. He kept us in there in the first half and I was proud of him.”
Siena improves to 13-5 and remains in first in the MAAC, reaching 17-10 overall in the victory. The Saints will head back to the Times Union Center on Sunday afternoon and face Niagara.
Marist falls to 6-12 in conference and 7-20 overall in the loss. The Red Foxes will have yet another quick turnaround and head to Hamden to take on Quinnipiac on Sunday for their third game in six days.
Edited by Will Bjarnar
Photo from Mike Cahill