O.D. Anosike soared for his 21st rebound just before the final horn sounded in Poughkeepsie Sunday signifying Siena's 79-75 win at Marist. The senior put on a dominant display, ending with 20 points, 21 rebounds and a career-high five assists as Siena topped its archrival for the 11th time in 12 meetings.
"He played like a Player of the Year," Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro said. "He got every rebound."
It sure seemed like it.
Anosike had his 13th double-double of the season by halftime - 15 points and 10 boards - helping Siena erase an early 23-10 deficit by out-scoring Marist 31-10 over the final 11:40 to take a 41-33 lead to the lockerroom.
With Anosike controlling the game inside and starting center Imoh Silas sidelined with an ankle injury, Buonaguro went to a smaller lineup for most of the game, inserting Trenity Burdine into the rotation, and Siena ran four-out on offense for the majority of the game. The result was the team's best offensive performance of the season.
The Saints scored a season-high 79 points, shot a season-high 54.9%, and had more assists (13) than turnovers (11) for the first time all year. They also placed five scorers in double figures for the first time.
The smaller lineup was a big reason for that. So was the play of point guard Evan Hymes.
Hymes scored 21 points and dished out five assists on the heels of his 30-point outburst in Friday night's 78-69 loss to first place Niagara.
Burdine, who returned to the active rotation Friday after serving a six-game suspension, scored 13 points in 30 solid minutes. Rakeem Brookins had 12 points and Rob Poole added 11. Those five accounted for all but two of Siena's 79 points.
Marist bolted to an early 23-10 lead behind the hot shooting of Isaiah Morton and Devin Price, but Siena gathered itself and chipped away.
"Just stick with it," Anosike said. "Coach told us to keep our composure and keep battling."
Siena erased the 13-point deficit and kept rolling, extending their lead to as many as 15 seven minutes into the second half before Marist rallied behind Chavaughn Lewis.
Lewis scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, his final three coming on a 3-pointer from the left wing that cut Siena's lead to 78-75 with 40 seconds left.
But after Poole missed the front end of a one-and-one, Lewis missed a short jumper and Adam Kemp's follow was long. Hymes - the smallest player on the court - saved the rebound and hurled the ball the length of the court to a sprinting Burdine who was fouled and made 1-of-2 free throws. Price missed two 3-pointers and Lewis missed one before Anosike secured the final rebound and the victory.
Anosike's 21 rebounds were one shy of the 22 he pulled down at Fairfield last season. But it was his five assists that might hold the key to Siena's improved offense.
"We have great shooters," Anosike said. "If they're going to double me, I'm more than happy to kick it out."
If Anosike's teammates respond like they did Sunday, the Saints might be dangerous.
"Our goal is to get hot at the right time," Anosike said. "We want to be playing our best in March."