BUFFALO, NY -- Sophomore Evan Fisher and classmate Nico Clareth's looks at potential game-tying threes in the final five seconds were off the mark as Canisius fended off Siena Basketball 82-79 at the Koessler Athletic Center. Senior forward Javion Ogunyemi tied a season-high with 19 points and added eight rebounds for the Saints which nearly battled all the way back from as much as a 13-point deficit midway through the second half.
Kassius Robertson led all scorers with 21 points including the first 14 of the game for upstart Canisius (9-5, 2-1) which has won six straight, marking the program's longest winning streak since the 1998-99 season. Jermaine Crumpton contributed 16 points, and Spencer Foley added a career-high 15 on 5-7 shooting from distance in just 12 minutes off the bench.
Red-shirt senior forward Brett Bisping tallied 17 points and nine rebounds for Siena (4-10, 1-2) which fell to 0-9 on the road and has dropped 10 straight away from home dating back to last season. The post duo of Bisping and Ogunyemi each shot 8-12 from the field for the Saints which recorded a season-high 52 points in the paint.
Foley drilled back-to-back threes to give Canisius its biggest lead of the game at 65-52 with 10:58 to play. The freshman, who came in averaging just 5.2 points per game, added another trey to extend the Golden Griffins' lead back to 10 with 7:24 remaining.
Down but not out, Siena battled back. Bisping scored nine of the Saints' next 11 points, spurring a spirited 11-3 run to draw Siena as close as two at 75-73 with 4:20 to go. Bisping scored 13 points in all during the Saints' second half rally, and is averaging 15.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in eight career games vs. Canisius.
However, the Golden Griffins would score the next six points to quickly push their lead back to eight, and still held a six-point cushion in the final minute. Senior guard Marquis Wright drained a clutch three to pull Siena within the final margin with 36.9 seconds to go. The Saints would get one final chance after Canisius freshman Malik Johnson missed two free throws, but couldn't connect on the potential game-tying three.
Siena shot 2-14 from distance, and is now just 35-146 (24%) from three the past 10 games to dip to only 29.1% on the season. Meanwhile the Golden Griffins, which came in ranked 14th nationally in both three-point makes and percentage, shot 10-28 from distance.
Wright finished with 15 points and seven assists, and Clareth added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Saints whose 10 losses have all come against teams which currently hold winning records and were a combined 92-48 (.657) entering play today. Siena held a 41-32 advantage on the glass in winning the rebounding battle for the 10th time in the past 11 games, which included 17 offensive rebounds to help fuel a 20-8 margin in second chance points.
Phil Valenti scored 10 points and added five rebounds and five assists for Canisius which led 46-39 at halftime. The MAAC's top scoring and shooting team shot 59% from the field in the first half in showing no rust offensively despite playing for the first time in 11 days following their holiday break.
Siena concludes its annual Western New York swing Wednesday night at Niagara. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. in a contest that will be televised throughout New York on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.