Jan. 13, 2013
O.D. Anosike scored 20 points and Siena shot 27-36 from the free throw line in a gritty 66-53 win over Saint Peter's Sunday in Albany.
"Typical Saint Peter's Siena game," head coach Mitch Buonaguro said. "Just grind it out."
The Saints grinded their way to a 42-41 lead with 9:59 to play before exploding for 24 of the final 36 points to put the game on ice. The win snapped Siena's four-game losing streak to the Peacocks, the longest to any MAAC opponent entering the day.
Freshman Rich Audu hit the two biggest shots of the game - consecutive 3-pointers that pushed Siena's lead from striking range to double digits with 2:10 left. Audu played the final 38 minutes and 37 seconds after replacing Ryan Oliver who injured his knee in the second minute of the game. Oliver was starting for Rob Poole who missed his second straight game with the flu.
Audu's shots played a big part, but this game was decided on the free throw line. Siena entered the game 335th of 347 schools in free throw shooting, but they made 22 more free throws than the Peacocks Sunday. Anosike was 12-for-17 from the stripe after making just 45% of his tries this season entering the game.
"We got to the free throw line and just made them," Buonaguro said. "We've worked hard on free throw shooting the last two weeks and it's gotten better. When you shoot them more, and guys are making them, you get more confident."
Siena turned in its second straight solid defensive effort. The Saints held Saint Peter's to 20 first half points and forced 19 turnovers.
Rakeem Brookins made 6-11 field goals, including a key late runner to finish with 18 points, and Evan Hymes had 12 points to round out the Saints in double figures.
Desi Washington led Saint Peter's with 16 points, making four of his team's six 3-pointers.
Siena entered the weekend on an 11-game losing streak and alone in last place in the MAAC at 0-4. They're now in a three-way tie for seventh in the league after their second victory in less than 48 hours.
"It can really help us,"Anosike said of the two wins. "We're right back in the mix of things in the MAAC. We're a young team, so to get two wins at home can do wonders for our confidence. At the same time, we can't be complacent. We're 4-13, there's no reason to relax."
The next challenge will be to get a MAAC road win, something g Siena has done just once in 10 tries since the start of last season. They travel to face red-hot Niagara Thursday night, and play at Canisius Saturday.
"We're a team that went through a lot of trials throughout the year and we stuck together," Anosike said. "Overall, we just played a good, solid game. That's what we have to do the rest of the year."