ALBANY, NY -- Abdulai Bundu blocked Ahsante Shivers' driving look at the potential game-winning layup in the final seconds as Quinnipiac held on to defeat Siena Basketball 71-70 in a New Year's Day matinee at the Times Union Center. Junior forward Evan Fisher and freshman guard Roman Penn posted career performances in defeat, tallying 21 and 19 points, respectively.
Cameron Young scored a game-high 26 points and hit the go-ahead three with 1:37 remaining for cardiac Quinnipiac (5-9, 2-0) which remarkably played in their eighth game decided by two points or less. It also marked the seventh time in the Bobcats' first 14 games where the tying or winning shot attempt was taken on the final possession.
Fisher shot 7-11 from the floor and made a career-high four threes for Siena (4-11, 0-2) which fell for just the eighth time in 29 MAAC home openers. Penn shot an equally impressive 7-10 from the field to tie a season-best in scoring, and swiped six steals which were tied for the program's most in eight years since Clarence Jackson `11 recorded seven on Jan. 4, 2010 at Loyola.
The first game of 2018 featured 12 ties and 17 lead changes with neither side opening any more than a six-point advantage. The Saints shot 57% from the floor, including a scintillating 7-10 from three-point range, to claim a 36-32 lead at the break.
The second half was just as tightly contested, and the final five minutes were highlighted by threes ties and six lead changes. The final tie came on a jumper from two-time MAAC Rookie of the Week Rich Kelly for Quinnipiac, which knotted the score at 68-all with 2:36 to go. Sophomore guard Khalil Richard, who poured in 14 points off the bench, had staked Siena to its final lead on the Saints' 10th three on the previous possession.
Young then put the Bobcats back in front for good on his right corner three right in front of the Quinnipiac bench. However, Young left the door open for Siena with three key turnovers down the stretch. His first, on Penn's sixth and final steal, led to the only points of the afternoon for junior guard and the Saints' leading scorer Nico Clareth whose dunk provided the final margin with 1:10 remaining.
A frenetic final 70 seconds featured two more Young turnovers and one Siena miscue prior to Shivers' shot with approximately three seconds remaining. But Bundu's block propelled Quinnipiac, which was projected to finish last according to the MAAC Preseason Coaches' Poll, to a 2-0 start in league play with victories over last year's regular season champion and tournament runner-up.
The Saints shot 53% from the field including 10-16 (63%) from distance in the defeat. Both teams committed 17 miscues apiece, but the Bobcats harbored a 24-11 advantage in points off turnovers.
Young added nine rebounds and shot 15-16 from the free throw line for Quinnipiac which shot a stellar 22-26 (85%) from the charity stripe to overcome a 40% performance from the field. Meanwhile Siena attempted just nine free throws, making eight.
Isaiah Washington scored 11 points, and Kelly added 10 points and five assists for the Bobcats which held a 32-21 advantage on the glass over the MAAC's top rebound margin team in the Saints (+2.2).
Siena will look to bounce back when they continue their three-game homestand Friday vs. Niagara. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. from the Times Union Center.