EMMITSBURG, M.D. (NEWS10) — Welcome back, Javian McCollum and Michael Eley. The dynamic duo combined for 45 points in their collective return to the lineup to propel Siena Basketball to its first series sweep of the season with a 72-65 bounce-back win over Mount St. Mary’s at Knott Arena.
A four-time MAAC Rookie of the Week, Eley poured in a career-high 23 points off the bench in his return from a two-game absence due to illness. Meanwhile, two-time MAAC Player of the Week and leading scorer McCollum, who missed five full games and two full halves of a pair of others over the previous 13 games (back), returned after missing the last contest to post his ninth 20-point performance of the season with 22 points to go along with six assists.
Dakota Leffew scored 20 points while Jalen Benjamin added 16 points for Mount St. Mary’s (8-17, 4-10) which has dropped eight of ten.
The Mount opened the game on a 13-4 spurt, but Siena (16-9, 10-4) responded with a 22-5 run to claim as much as an eight-point first-half lead of their own. A back-and-forth opening stanza ended in a 33-all stalemate at the break.
Making his first start in 19 days, McCollum opened the second half with a three on the first possession, and the Saints never trailed the rest of the way. Siena later scored eight straight to take their largest advantage of the night at 56-47 with 7:13 remaining.
Mount St. Mary’s hung around but never got any closer than three thereafter, as the Saints went a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line in the final minute to bounce back from consecutive losses. Siena shot a stellar 23-26 (89%) overall from the charity stripe while adding a +11 rebounding advantage (38-27) to improve to a perfect 6-0 all-time against their new MAAC foes.
With the win, the Saints kept pace with first-place Rider and second-place Iona, who were also victorious Friday night. Siena remains just one game back of the front-running Broncs, who are idle Sunday, and a half-game behind the Gaels.
The Saints return home to host I-87 rival Marist Sunday at 2 p.m. at MVP Arena.