Siena uses late bucket to secure split with Niagara

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LEWISTON, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Manny Camper drove and dished to Jackson Stormo for the game-winning layup with two-tenths of a second remaining as Siena Basketball escaped with a 68-66 win at Niagara and a split of their Western New York trip. Camper narrowly missed a triple-double with 18 points, nine rebounds, and a career-high eight assists for the Saints who improved to a perfect 6-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.

Leading scorer Jordan King made just two field goals, but drilled the clutch, go-ahead three to put Siena (9-3, 9-3) back in front 61-60 with 3:10 to go. The Saints still led 66-63 following a pair of huge Raheem Solomon free throw misses with just 23 seconds remaining but, in the scramble for the loose ball rebound, Preseason First Team All-MAAC selection Marcus Hammond scored his only points of the game, knocking down the game-tying baseline three with 17 seconds left.

After advancing the ball into the frontcourt and calling timeout with 12 seconds to go, the Saints put the ball in Camper’s hands with the game on the line. The senior captain drove down the left side of the lane, and, when the help defense started to shift, found Stormo underneath for the decisive lay-in.

Stormo finished with 13 points on 6-8 shooting and eight rebounds for Siena who pulled within one victory of MAAC frontrunner Monmouth in the win column. Jalen Pickett added 11 of his 13 points in the first half for Siena who shot an even 50% from the field, while also harboring a decisive 37-24 rebounding advantage. Pickett also rejected three shots while playing lock-down defense on Hammond, limiting the 13.8 points per game scorer to just one field goal.

Kobi Nwandu scored 15 points to lead Niagara (8-10, 7-9), while Jordan Cintron added 14 points on 6-8 shooting off the bench. Justin Roberts chipped in all 11 of his points in the first half for the Purple Eagles.

After playing to a tightly contested two-point game Saturday, Sunday’s rematch was no different as the teams played to nine ties and eight lead changes. The Saints led 36-35 following an exciting, up-tempo first half in which they shot 50% and grabbed more offensive rebounds (10) than Niagara had total rebounds (seven). However, the Purple Eagles shot 68% (13-19) in the opening stanza to make it a one-point Siena lead at the break for the second straight day.

Much like the first half when they jumped out to a 12-4 advantage, the Saints scored seven unanswered points early in the second half to open as much as a nine-point advantage at 50-41 with 11:42 remaining. But Niagara found its first half shooting stroke, rattling off 10 straight points in just 1:43 to quickly erase the deficit. The Purple Eagles ultimately tallied 19 points in a 4:52 flurry, shooting 8-10 from the field and 3-4 from distance, to claim a 60-56 lead with 7:32 left.

But Siena clamped down defensively when it needed to most to stop the spurt. Outside of their 19-point, 8-10 shooting flurry, the Saints held the Purple Eagles to just 5-26 shooting in the second half. Siena, which has played exclusively back-to-backs so far, returns to action Wednesday when they host Manhattan for their first midweek standalone matchup of the season Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the UHY Center.

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