NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Not even Friday the 13th could throw off Siena Basketball. The Saints overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to make it a lucky number seven wins in a row with a 70-64 triumph over Niagara at the Gallagher Center.
Javian McCollum returned from a one and a half game injury absence with a vengeance to keep Siena (12-5, 6-0) atop the MAAC Standings. The MAAC Player of the Year candidate tied his career-highs of 27 points and eight assists while also grabbing a career-best five rebounds for the Saints, who snapped Niagara’s (9-7, 4-3) nine-game win streak at the Gallagher Center. The MAAC’s leading scorer Noah Thomasson (18.2) scored 19 points for the Purple Eagles, who suffered their first loss on Monteagle Ridge since Jan. 23 of last year. Aaron Gray added 16 points and Sam Iorio chipped in 13 for Niagara, which had entered play winners of six of their previous eight.
The Purple Eagles pieced together an early 16-2 run to claim as much as a 10-point first half lead at 18-8 at the 9:37 mark, and held Siena without a field goal for 8:37. The Saints got their offense untracked down the stretch, but still trailed 37-30 at the half as Niagara shot 56% in the opening stanza while turning nine Siena turnovers into 15 points. The Saints slowly chipped away in the second half, although the Purple Eagles maintained between a one-to-two possession lead deep into the contest. But when it came down to winning time, Andrew Platek came up big once again.
Platek keyed a decisive 11-2 run spanning 1:48 in crunch time, bookending the spurt with clutch threes. He gave Siena its first lead since the opening minutes at 59-58 with 3:26 to go, and then delivered the dagger to put the Saints up by as many as seven at 67-60 with 1:38 left. Siena scored 40 second half points on 54% shooting against the MAAC’s top scoring defense, while also holding a decisive 31-17 rebounding advantage overall for the evening. Meanwhile, the Purple Eagles connected at just a 35% clip in the stanza, and were only 2-14 overall from three, as the Saints improved to a perfect 10-0 when holding their opponents to 70 points or less.
The reigning MAAC Player of the Week Jackson Stormo scored 20 points on 8-12 shooting for Siena, which is now an impressive 8-2 in games decided by seven points or less. Platek finished with 13 points on 5-6 shooting including 3-4 from distance for the Saints, who’ve won all seven games during their win streak by single digits. Siena will now shift its sights to looking to secure its first Western New York sweep in seven years when they take on Canisius Sunday at noon in Buffalo.