ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Despite eight ties, 13 lead changes, and trailing with under 10 minutes to go, Siena Basketball mounted its largest margin of victory at home so far this season. The Saints went on a decisive 20-4 game-ending run over the final 9:48 to get back in the win column with a 72-57 victory over new MAAC member Mount St. Mary’s at MVP Arena.
Freshman reserve Michael Eley poured in a career-high 20 points for Siena (13-6, 7-1) which tipped off its season-long three-game homestand with their fifth straight victory at MVP Arena. Javian McCollum added 17 points for the Saints who have now won eight of nine, bouncing back from their first league setback last weekend.
Jedy Cordilia scored a career-high 16 points and added seven rebounds for Mount Saint Mary’s (6-13, 2-6) which has dropped seven of eight while averaging just 57.6 points during that stretch. The Mount’s top player, Jalen Benjamin, returned from injury to contribute 14 points albeit on just 5-17 shooting.
Neither team led by more than two possessions over the first 33 minutes in what had been a tightly contested affair deep into the evening. Mount St. Mary’s scored 10 unanswered points down the stretch in the first half to reclaim a slim 38-37 lead at the break. The Mount, which entered play last in the MAAC in scoring, shot an even 50% from the field in an offensive-minded opening half.
Mount St. Mary’s claimed its final lead at 53-52 with 10:03 remaining, before Siena kicked it into another gear down the stretch. The Saints kickstarted their decisive run by reeling off 10 straight points – capped by back-to-back Andrew Platek threes – to take a 62-53 lead with 6:50 left, and never looked back.
Siena clamped down on the Mount, holding them to just half their first half scoring output with only 19 second half points on 28% shooting. The Saints forced Mount St. Mary’s to misfire on 11 of their final 13 shots to improve to a perfect 5-0 all-time against their new conference foes.
Jared Billups stuffed the stat sheet for Siena with 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and four blocks while posting a team-best plus-minus of +17. Michael Baer contributed a career-high 14 rebounds for the Saints who were +14 (43-29) on the glass, fueling a 13-0 advantage in second chance points.
Siena continues its homestand Sunday when they host Fairfield at 2 p.m. at MVP Arena.