LOUDONVILLE, NY (NEWS10) — Javian McCollum scored 21 of his career-high 27 points in the second half and Siena men’s basketball scored 12 unanswered points down the stretch to fend off Canisius 74-70 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener at MVP Arena.
A two-time MAAC Player of the Week, McCollum made a strong bid for his third weekly honor in the first four weeks of the season. The sophomore point guard shot a sharp 8-14 from the field and 8-9 from the free throw line for Siena (5-3, 1-0) which continued to build off last week’s third-place finish at the ESPN Events Invitational, featuring high-major wins over Florida State and Seton Hall.
Jordan Henderson scored 18 points on 6-9 shooting including 4-6 from three for Canisius (2-5, 0-1) which matched its season-average of 11 made threes, which ranks eighth nationally. Jamir Moultrie added 17 points for the Golden Griffins who have now lost 18 of their last 19 road games dating back to the start of last season.
The Saints shook a slow start to open the program’s 34th MAAC season, utilizing an early 15-3 run to claim an 18-15 advantage at the 8:54 mark. Siena built as much as a seven-point first half lead, and took a 31-27 advantage at the break. The Saints held Canisius to just 29% shooting overall in the first half, including only 5-23 (22%) on two-point attempts.
But the Golden Griffins found their shooting stroke in the second half. Canisius connected at a 55% clip in the stanza, and ultimately reclaimed as much as a five-point lead at 61-56 with 5:38 to go.
However, a MAAC-opening battle turned chippy down the stretch, and Siena held its composure to fight back. The Saints pieced together their decisive 12-0 run over just 1:56, with seven of their points coming at the free throw line thanks in part to two of the Golden Griffins’ four late technical fouls. Siena clawed back to reclaim as much as seven-point advantage at 68-61 on a Jared Billups slam with 3:39 remaining.
Canisius made one final push – scoring six straight to cut the difference to a point – but Jackson Stormo tipped in the decisive basket to push the lead back to three with 31.6 seconds left, and the Saints made their free throws down the stretch to improve to an impressive 23-11 in MAAC openers including a stellar 24-9 in home-opening conference tilts. Siena shot 18-19 from the foul line in the second half including a perfect 10-10 over the final 5:27 to improve to 40-9 at home vs. the Golden Griffins during the program’s Division I era.  
Stormo posted his fourth career double-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and a career-best five of the 10 total blocks for the Saints, who are now a league-best 51-24 in MAAC Regular Season action since the start of the 2018-19 season. Michael Baer came off the bench to add a career-high 10 points and five rebounds for Siena, which prevailed in its only home game in a 33-day stretch.
The Saints will look to keep their momentum going as they return to the big stage Wednesday night for their fourth high-major matchup – and nationally televised tilt – in a five-game span. Siena heads to the Nation’s Capital to battle Big East member Georgetown at 6:30 p.m. on FS2.