FAIRFIELD, CT (NEWS10) — New year, same result. Siena Basketball pushed its win streak to four with a 70-61 New Year’s Day victory over Fairfield at Leo D. Mahoney Arena. The Saints shot 54% from the field against the conference’s top-ranked defense to complete the sweep of their season-long three-game road trip and improve to a perfect 3-0 in the MAAC.
Freshman reserve Michael Eley tied his season-high for a third time with 16 points and added a career-best seven rebounds for Siena (9-5, 3-0), which has matched its longest win streak since winning a program-record 16 straight bridging 2020-21. Jackson Stormo contributed 11 of his 15 points in the second half for the Saints, which have won nine in a row over Fairfield (6-8, 2-2).
TJ Long came off the bench to score 17 of his game-high 19 points on the strength of five threes in the second half for the Stags, which had entered play winners of four of their previous five, coinciding with the opening of their new on-campus arena. Allan Jeanne-Rose tallied 12 of his 15 points in the first half and Supreme Cook chipped in 10 points for Fairfield which shot just 38% from the field.
Siena opened the New Year much the same way they had concluded 2022 Friday night: with a bang. The Saints scored 11 of the first 13 points of 2023, and also went on another 11-2 run midway through the first half to open up as much as an 18-point cushion at 27-9 at the 7:54 mark. The Stags, which had started the game ice-cold from the field, closed the stanza by connecting on eight of their final 10 shots to cut the Siena lead to nine at 36-27 at the break.
The Saints built the lead back to as many as 16 at 50-34 on an Eley basket with 13:09 remaining. But Fairfield battled back, constructing an 18-8 run down the stretch highlighted by three threes from Long to whittle the Siena lead all the way down to just two at 63-61 with 2:15 to go.
The Saints dug deep though in crunch time to ring in the New Year victorious. Siena scored the final seven points – highlighted by a 5-6 effort from the free throw line – and got key stops in the waning moments to ice their first win of 2023. Jared Billups, who scored eight of his 10 points in the second half and added nine rebounds and three assists, secured a clutch steal off an inbound with the Saints up five with 32 seconds left, before adding the exclamation point with a breakaway dunk in the final seconds.
Siena posted their second straight powerful performance in the paint with 46 points, while outscoring the Stags by 14 in the key. The Saints also made the most of 12 Fairfield turnovers, turning the miscues into 20 points.
After successfully navigating a grueling stretch in which they went 7-4 while playing nine of 11 away from home, Siena will now return to the friendly confines of MVP Arena for five of their next seven games. The Saints open a weekend homestand Friday when they host defending MAAC Tournament Champion and Elite Eight participant Saint Peter’s at 7 p.m.