HAMDEN, C.T. (NEWS10) — Siena Basketball will head into the New Year riding a three-game winning streak. The Saints ended 2022 with a bang, exploding for 52 second-half points on 58% shooting to take down Quinnipiac 83-76 at M&T Bank Arena.
Playing for the first time in 11 days in his return from a one-game absence due to injury coupled with the Holiday Break, Javian McCollum looked no worse for the wear. The two-time MAAC Player of the Week poured in a game-high 25 points – just two off his career-high – on 9-15 shooting including 3-6 from three for Siena (8-5, 2-0), which won its conference road-opener for the third straight year.
Andrew Platek scored all 19 of his points in the second half on 7-12 shooting overall and 3-4 from three for the Saints, who secured the program’s third straight winning December (4-2). Platek pulled down a career-high seven rebounds and posted a game-high plus/minus of +19 in the seven-point road win, Siena’s sixth in eight all-time appearances in Hamden. Ike Nweke scored 21 points on 9-13 shooting and added seven rebounds for slumping Quinnipiac (9-5, 0-3), which has now dropped five of seven – including their first three MAAC contests – after having won seven straight to open the season to mark the program’s best start in 53 years.
In a back-and-forth first, half the Bobcats scored nine unanswered points late to go back in front and ultimately took a 35-31 lead at the break. Quinnipiac grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the opening stanza which they turned into a 12-0 advantage in second-chance points in the half. The second half quickly turned into a track meet, with the teams trading transition baskets at near warp speed. At one point, midway through the stanza, each side had connected on seven shots during an eight-shot stretch as part of a second-half offensive awakening. The Saints, who entered play averaging the fifth-fewest fast break points nationally (4.3), recorded a season-high 16.
Siena proved to ultimately be the bigger beneficiary of the increased tempo, however, thanks to their shooting prowess against the MAAC’s top field goal percentage defense unit (.403) and, after forcing just one turnover in the first half, turned the Bobcats over 10 times in the second half leading to 13 points. In a game that featured 12 ties and 11 lead changes, Siena wrestled back the lead for good at 70-67 on a Platek three with 3:33 to go. The triple ignited a late 10-2 spurt highlighted by seven points from Platek, who bookended the run with a basket to push the lead to a game-high eight at 77-69 with 1:50 remaining.
Jackson Stormo contributed 14 points on 6-9 shooting for the Saints who shot 49% overall and committed a season-low seven turnovers, after having averaged 14.9 coming in. Reigning MAAC Rookie of the Week Michael Eley rounded out four double-figure scorers with 12 points off the bench for Siena, which has won five of six overall vs. Quinnipiac. The Saints also achieved a season-best 48 points in the paint, nearly 20 points better than their season average (28.7).
The Bobcats too placed four in double figures, with Dezi Jones scoring 15 points and reserves Luis Kortright and Tyrese Williams chipping in 11 apiece. Siena will ring in 2023 and conclude its conference weekend in Connecticut on New Year’s Day Sunday with a 2 p.m. tip at Fairfield.