Siena doubles down on defense, tops Niagara

Local Sports

LOUDONVILLE, NY – The Siena Saints women’s basketball team continued their defensive prowess of late on Thursday night, as they defeated the Niagara Purple Eagles by a final score of 59-54 in the Alumni Recreation Center. The Saints held Niagara to 32.3 percent shooting and turned them over 24 times. Junior DeAnna Winston would hit a three-point shot with 24 seconds to play to give Siena a five point cushion down the stretch.

Leading the Saints for the second straight game would be sophomore Lala Watts, as she corralled her first collegiate double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while also adding five blocks. Her double-double would be the second by a Saint this year, with Julia Hauer getting one back on Nov. 12 at Harvard. Sophomores Amari Anthony and Margo Peterson led the offense with 16 and 15 points, as Anthony went a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line and Peterson connected on 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.

Niagara was led by a 16 point night from freshman Adia Brisker, as she went 6-for-14 from the floor with six rebounds. Valentina Pepic would snag 10 rebounds for the Purple Eagles as they had nine different scorers on the night.

Siena took control off the bat, as Niagara hit a three pointer in their first possession to take their only lead of the game at 3-2. From there, the Saints would find Watts and Peterson early and often as the Green and Gold opened a 10-point lead in the first thanks to an 11-0 run over a span of 5:11, with Watts and Peterson combining for nine of those points. That streak would be their longest that they have held an opponent scoreless this season.

Despite holding an eight point lead after one quarter, the Saints struggled to score in the second quarter as they relied on their defense to keep things even keel. The defense would do just that, as Siena hung onto a 25-24 lead at the half.

In the third quarter, Siena would go on a run once again as they held Niagara scoreless over a span of 4:46 to begin the quarter putting up nine points to take a 34-24 lead. The second of two free throws would sink for junior Marilena Gerostergiou with 1:15 to play in the third, giving the Saints a 43-30 lead for their biggest lead of the day.

However, the Purple Eagles would come back once again and open the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run as the Saints struggled to score once again. A layup from Anthony with 5:58 left on the clock broke the streak, as it gave Siena a three-point lead, 45-42. The Saints would keep pace ahead of the Purple Eagles, which included a hustle play from Anthony that gave the Green and Gold a 51-44 lead with 2:06 to play. She grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed layup on a fast break, and would get the and-one and hit the free throw.

Niagara refused to quit down the stretch, as they got a big play of their own when Jai Moore hit a three-pointer with 52 seconds remaining to cut the Siena lead to only two points, 53-51. Then with the shot clock running down in the next possession, Winston would hit her big three-pointer with 24 seconds remaining, giving the Saints a 56-51 lead. Free throws from Gerostergiou and Anthony would help seal the deal despite a last second bucket from distance by Niagara.

The Saints return to the floor on Saturday as the calendar rolls over to February, as they play host to the Canisius Golden Griffins. Saturday’s Feb. 1 game will be Alumni Day, as former players from the program will return to campus, with tip-off against Canisius coming at 2 p.m.

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