Saints Throttle Fairfield, Stay Perfect at Home

Brett Bisping scored a career-high 28 points Thursday night

Jan. 7, 2016

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Brett Bisping scored a career-high 28 points, Javion Ogunyemi finished with 19 points and Siena never trailed on the way to beating Fairfield 91-76 on Thursday night.

Nico Clareth had 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting for the Saints, who opened the second half on a 14-2 run to take full control. Ryan Oliver scored 11 and Lavon Long finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds, his sixth career double-double for Siena.

The Saints (10-6, 3-2 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) improved to 7-0 this season at Times Union Center, their best home record since going 17-0 in the 2009-10 season. That MAAC championship team included Ronald Moore and Edwin Ubiles, both of whom were in attendance Thursday as part of the crowd of 5,193.

Siena shot 55 percent, compared to 34 percent for Fairfield. The last time the Saints scored 91 points in a non-overtime game was Dec. 29, 2009, when they beat Saint Joseph's 92-75.

"Players got this win," Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said. "I was very nervous about this game. Fairfield's playing extremely well."

Marcus Gilbert scored 24 points for Fairfield (7-7, 1-3). Tyler Nelson had 17 and Curtis Cobb scored 11 for the Stags, who were outrebounded 50-28 by the Saints.

Bisping reached 20 points for the third straight game and reached double figures for the seventh consecutive game - the first time that's happened in his Siena career. He opened the scoring 15 seconds into the game and the Saints were off and running against a Fairfield team that simply could not handle Siena inside.

Bisping's 28 were the most by a Siena player since Marquis Wright had 31 for the Saints against Fordham on Dec. 1, 2014. The last time a Siena player scored so many in a MAAC game was Feb. 16, 2014, when Rob Poole scored 33 in a triple-overtime game against Canisius.

"We're not concerned about personal accolades here," Bisping said. "Nico's probably responsible for half my points tonight. ... We just have a lot of selfless guys. We all love each other and we don't care who gets the accolades."

The Saints finished with a 52-18 edge in the paint, fueled by a statistically odd first half effort on the defensive end. In the first 20 minutes Thursday, Fairfield was 6-for-11 (54.5%) from 3-point range and a mere 2-for-19 (10.5%) from 2-point range, most of those misses coming around the rim. Ogunyemi had all four of his blocks in the first half to set the defensive tone for the Saints.

The Saints led 46-36 at the break, their highest-scoring first half since getting 47 at Niagara on Feb. 6, 2013. It was Siena's seventh time reaching 80 points already this season, after getting to that mark eight times in the previous three seasons combined.

Fairfield kept it close early with 3-pointers. The Stags opened 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, the last of those being Gilbert's straightaway 25-footer that cut Siena's lead to 20-17 with 12:42 left in the half. But the Saints went on an 8-2 run over the next four minutes, continually going inside to exploit the size advantage.

Siena kept pulling away steadily. Oliver's soft pullup jumper in the lane with 6:30 left in the first half gave the Saints their first double-digit lead of the night, 36-26. And when it seemed like Fairfield was set to try to get back into it, Clareth's steal and team-leading 10th dunk of the season midway through the second half pushed the lead to 76-57.

"In the huddle before the game we said 'protect this house,'" Clareth said. "And that's exactly what we did. ... That's something we expect to do, protect this house."

Siena became the second MAAC team to reach the 10-win mark this season, and won for the 45th time in its last 52 games when shooting better than 50 percent from the floor.

The Saints are off until Jan. 15, when they visit Quinnipiac.