Jan. 26, 2014
Siena out-scored Fairfield 39-25 in the second half, rallying for a key 64-56 MAAC road win Sunday in Bridgeport. Rob Poole and Brett Bisping paced Siena with 19 points apiece, and the pair accounted for 28 after intermission.
Siena (9-12, 5-5) won for just the second time this season when trailing at the half. It was just the fourth MAAC road win for the Saints in their last 29 tries, but half of those have come this season (at Niagara).
Siena surpassed its overall and MAAC win total from last season. Five of the Saints next seven games will be played at Times Union Center, starting with Thursday night's contest against Niagara.
Fairfield (4-17, 1-9) led 31-25 at the half, but it could have been much worse. The Stags led by as many as 11, and dominated the Saints 23-12 on the glass.
"I just said stay with the plan," Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said. "At the end of the half, I thought it was really big that we held them."
The Saints looked like a different team out of the lockerroom, especially on the defensive end. Fairfield scored just four points in the first nine and a half minutes of the second half, as Siena rallied to take a 37-35 lead on Marquis Wright's coast-to-coast layup with 10:53 to play.
Fairfield scored the next five points to go back up three, but with the Stags leading 42-40 and 8:06 on the clock, Bisping took over. The sophomore power forward scored Siena's next seven points, and his physical three-point play in traffic with 6:22 left gave Siena a 47-44 lead. Fairfield got no closer than three the rest of the way.
After Ryan Oliver drilled a huge three-pointer from the right wing that pushed the lead to seven with 1:35 left, Poole iced the game from the free throw line. Poole was a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe with all 10 makes coming in the second half. The Saints made 19 of their last 20 free throws after starting the game 1-for-5.
Fairfield got 15 points from Maurice Barrow and 16 from Justin Jenkins, but Siena limited leading scorer Marcus Gilbert to just five points on 2-of-8 shooting.
The Saints won despite being out-rebounded for just the second time in 17 games (34-29). Siena made just four three-pointers and turned the ball over 13 times against six assists, but found a way to do something it has struggled to for the past three and a half seasons.
"That's what we're trying to build," Patsos said. "It starts with protecting your home court, then maybe stealing a home game against a top team, and then win on the road. It's not easy to do."