Second half surge stakes Saints to season-opening sweep

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Loudonville, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Siena Basketball extended the nation’s fifth longest active win streak to 12 straight, and completed a season-opening sweep of Monmouth, with a 76-62 victory at the Alumni Recreation Center. Junior guard Jalen Pickett posted his 10th career double-double with 18 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, while pulling within three points of 1,000 for his illustrious career.

Senior captain Manny Camper also notched his 15th career double-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds, a career-high tying five assists for Siena (2-0, 2-0) who has won 16 straight in the Capital Region, and is now tied with South Dakota State for the sixth longest home winning streak nationally. Sophomore guard Jordan King added a career-high 15 points, and graduate transfer Nick Hopkins contributed 11 points to round out the Saints’ double figure scorers.

George Papas led Monmouth (3-4, 3-3) with 16 points, while Deion Hammond was held to a quiet 12 for the Hawks who were limited to more than 20 points below their season scoring average of 83.3 points per game entering play.

Siena opened the game on an 11-2 flurry, but Monmouth scored the final seven points to claim a 35-34 lead at the half. The Saints shot just 34% in the opening stanza, including only 3-13 (23%) from three.

But for the second straight night, Siena overcame a halftime deficit by setting the tone right from the get-go to open the final 20 minutes. The Saints locked down Monmouth defensively, while shooting 54% in outscoring the Hawks by 15 points in the second half.

Siena reclaimed the lead for good less than two minutes into the second half, and built a decisive 15-5 run midway through the stanza to take an insurmountable 18-point lead at 66-48 with 5:30 to go. The Saints limited the potent Monmouth offense, which entered play shooting 48% from the field including 42% from three, to just 38% shooting and only 4-17 (24%) from distance.

Meanwhile Siena made the most of their second chance opportunities, turning 13 offensive rebounds into a 17-6 advantage in second chance scoring. Additionally, the Saints tightened their belts in the half court, where Monmouth scored just 43 points.

Siena, which had lost 11 of its first 13 games against the Hawks since Monmouth joined the MAAC in 2013-14, has now swept the regular season series in two straight years.

The Saints return to action when they host Canisius Friday and Saturday at the ARC, with both games set to tip at 5 p.m. Both matchups will once again be televised locally in the Capital Region on My4 Albany, and will be available elsewhere through ESPN’s streaming service.

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