ALBANY, NY – For the second time in a row, Siena and Iona played to an epic overtime battle at the Times Union Center. And this time, the Saints came out on top. Junior forward Evan Fisher scored 10 of his career-high tying 21 points in the extra session to lead Siena Basketball to an 82-78 overtime triumph over two-time defending MAAC Tournament Champion and preseason favorite Iona.
Fisher opened overtime with consecutive threes, and Siena (8-19, 4-10) connected on five of its six field goal attempts in the extra session to snap an eight-game home losing streak to Iona (16-11, 10-5), and post its first win over the Gaels at the Times Union Center since Jan. 23, 2012. Sophomore guard Khalil Richard led all scorers with a career-high 22 points for the Saints, which enacted a small measure of revenge against Iona after having suffered a one-point overtime defeat in last year’s MAAC Championship Game here in Albany.
Roland Griffin paced five Gaels in double figures with 21 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Frontcourt mate TK Edogi added a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds for Iona which outscored Siena 44-24 in the paint.
Neither side ever led by more than six points in another tightly contested matchup in the 113th all-time meeting between the longtime rivals. The last four meetings have now been decided by a grand total of nine points, with each side winning twice.
In a matchup which featured six ties and 10 lead changes, E.J. Crawford beat the halftime buzzer to stake the Gaels to a 36-33 lead at the half. Iona remained in front for the majority of the second half – although never by more than two possessions – until Richard’s short jumper reclaimed the lead for the Saints at 64-63 with 3:26 remaining in regulation.
Following a game-tying free throw from Schadrac Casimir – who became the 39th Iona player to eclipse 1,000 career points earlier in the night – Rickey McGill put the Gaels back on top 66-64 with 96 seconds to go. But freshman guard Jordan Horn corralled a loose ball and knocked down the game-tying free throw line jumper with 25 seconds left to send Siena to its fourth overtime game of the season.
Fisher then put the Saints back in front for good following his two huge triples to begin the extra session and, after McGill rallied Iona back within a point with 15.8 seconds left, sunk a pair of clutch free throws to help secure Siena’s fourth win in its past five home contests.
Fisher shot 8-10 from the field and narrowly missed a double-double in pulling down nine rebounds for the Saints which played in their 10th game this season decided by four points or less. Richard added five rebounds and four assists for Siena which dished out 17 dimes while posting its highest scoring output in nearly two months since tallying 87 points in a win at Bryant on Dec. 17.
Horn (18) and classmate Prince Oduro (12) rebounded out the double figure scorers for the Saints, as the duo combined with Fisher and Richard to account for 73 of Siena’s 82 points. Red-shirt junior guard Kadeem Smithen chipped in with a career-high six assists (no turnovers) and a career-high tying 10 rebounds to go along with five points.
The Saints will look to build upon their momentum when they face arguably their stiffest league test yet Thursday at Rider. The teams are set to match up in their only regular season meeting when the MAAC frontrunner Broncs host the Saints at 7 p.m.