Feb. 8, 2010
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Siena clinched at least a share of the MAAC regular-season title, the #1 seed in the conference Tournament and an automatic bid to the NIT with a 69-67 win over Fairfield Monday night at Times Union Center. Four Saints scored in double figures as the nation's longest win streak improved to a program-record 15 games and the second longest homecourt win streak moved to 34.
Siena (21-4, 14-0) opened the game red hot, going on a 14-4 spurt to open the biggest lead of the game at the first media timeout. But Fairfield freshman phenom Derek Needham scored the Stags (16-8, 9-5) next nine points as Fairfield went on a 15-4 run to take a 19-18 lead at the 9:50 mark.
Siena and Fairfield exchanged the lead three more times during the first half, but the Saints closed the stanza on a 15-5 run and would never trail again.
Even without Alex Franklin who sat out the final 12 minutes of the first half due to foul trouble, teammates Ryan Rossiter and O.D. Anosike dominated on the blocks as the Saints outscored the Stags 20-4 in the paint and 12-0 in second chance points in earning a 36-28 halftime lead.
Fairfield made six of its first nine shots in the second half to pull as close as a single point (44-43), but never got any closer. Siena, which had all five starters play the entire second half, pushed the lead back to seven (65-58) following a Rossiter free throw with 1:14 left, and although Fairfield got as close as two with a contested three in the final seconds, they never had the ball in a one possession game.
Edwin Ubiles led four Saints in double figures with 18 points, while Ryan Rossiter tallied his 14th double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Franklin and Clarence Jackson added 12 apiece as the Saints clinched a postseason berth for a third straight year. Siena is now set to play the winner of the #8 vs. #9 game in the MAAC Quarterfinals on Saturday, March 6 at 4:30 p.m. here in Albany.
Needham finished with a game-high 26 for the Stags, while Sean Crawford set a new career-high for a second straight game with 15 points.
The Saints return to action Friday night at Niagara at 8 p.m. on ESPN2 with a chance to clinch the regular season championship outright. The Purple Eagles are the last conference foe to defeat the Saints which have now won 18 straight against MAAC opponents.
Siena and Butler are the only two teams to have already clinched a postseason bid. The two meet February 20 at Hinkle Field House in the premier game of BracketBusters Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.