Albany, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Jackson Stormo dropped 20 points as Siena Basketball grinded past Niagara 60-56 to tip off a season-long four-game homestand at MVP Arena. Colby Rogers added 11 points for the Saints who have captured 13 of the past 17 meetings between the longtime MAAC rivals.
Stormo and Rogers combined to score 17 of the final 20 points down the stretch for Siena (7-8, 4-3) which shot 57% in an efficient second half with just four turnovers. The Saints had shot just 37% with seven turnovers in the first half.
Sam Iorio posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds for Niagara (8-11, 3-7) which was without the MAAC’s leading scorer Marcus Hammond (17.3 points per game). Noah Thomasson added 15 points of his own for the Purple Eagles who began a stretch of playing seven of nine away from Monteagle Ridge.
After playing to a pair of two-point outcomes last season in Western New York, Siena and Niagara battled in another nail biter, as for the fifth time in the past six meetings the final was decided by four points or less or in overtime. Neither side led by more than a two-possession advantage, although the contest featured just five lead changes to go along with 11 ties, nearly all of which occurred over the opening 20 minutes.
The Purple Eagles took their first of multiple five-point leads on the night early in the first half, but a back and forth stanza finished with Niagara ahead 26-24 at the break. The Purple Eagles pushed their advantage back to five again on several more occasions in the second half, but the Saints hung tough before striking late.
Stormo put Siena in front for the first time in nearly 20 minutes on a finish inside to make it 42-41 with 6:57 to go. He scored again on the ensuing possession, with Rogers finishing the unconventional three-point play with a technical free throw. The back-to-back possessions proved to be the difference in a tight game, as the Saints would not relinquish their modest lead from there.
Stormo and Rogers capped their clutch late game performances with back-to-back baskets to push the lead to a half dozen with 87 seconds to go, as Siena prevailed for the 16th time in the past 18 matchups between the programs in Albany.
The Saints’ defense allowed a season-low 56 points, while holding the MAAC’s top three-point shooting team to just 1-15 from distance.
Jared Billups came off the bench to chip in a spirited seven points and eight rebounds – including a key three-point play late – as Siena emerged victorious in its first of four straight home games spanning the next seven days. The Saints had played their first five home games this season over the course of nearly three months.
Siena continues its six-game, 12-day stretch Sunday when they host Quinnipiac at 2 p.m.

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