ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — With his terminally ill father in attendance, Michael Baer produced a special night that he won’t soon forget. Baer posted career-highs of 13 rebounds, six assists, and was a +21 for surging Siena Basketball which won its fifth straight with a 70-60 triumph over reigning MAAC Tournament Champion and Elite Eight Cinderella Saint Peter’s at MVP Arena.
“I was at every game last year, and this is big to be able to come,” said John Baer, who addressed the team in the locker room following the win. Baer made the trip from Iowa along with his family to watch his son Michael play in person one more time. “It wasn’t easy getting here guys. It wasn’t easy, and it was a lot. Thank you for being so gracious.”
Baer added five second half points in a spot start for Siena (10-5, 4-0), which overcame being down starters Jayce Johnson and leading scorer Javian McCollum, the latter of whom did not play in the second half. Jackson Stormo paced a true team effort – which featured four double figure scorers – with 18 points on 8-13 shooting. Isiah Dasher scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and added four steals for Saint Peter’s (7-8, 2-4), which has dropped seven of eight away from Run Baby Run Arena. Fellow Elite Eight holdover Jaylen Murray added 10 points.
A seesaw first half saw Saint Peter’s score 12 straight down the stretch, only for the Saints to score the final seven points to take a 31-29 lead at the break. Two-time defending MAAC Rookie of the Week Michael Eley, who came off the bench to score 15 more points, capped the half with a three in the waning seconds to put Siena up at intermission.
The Saints trailed for just one possession early in the second half – 41-39 with 13:52 to go – but responded with 10 unanswered points to reclaim the lead for good. Andrew Platek – who scored all 11 of his points after the break – hit a trio of big threes down the stretch, including clutch triples on back-to-back possessions to give Siena an eight-point lead at 63-55 with 1:42 to go.
Jared Billups rounded out the double figure scorers with 11 points for Siena, which has won 10 of the last 12 over the Peacocks in the Capital Region. Freshman Zek Tekin also stepped up in the absence of McCollum, with six points and three assists in his first extended collegiate minutes. The Saints wrap up their weekend homestand Sunday when they host Rider at 2 p.m. for the Fourth Annual Sensory Friendly and Autism Awareness Game.