ALBANY, NY – Senior guard Marquis Wright scored 21 points and red-shirt senior forward Brett Bisping tallied his 10th double-double of the season with 17 points and 17 rebounds in Siena Basketball’s 76-70 win over Niagara in front of 6,850 at the Times Union Center. With the victory, the Saints closed within just a half game of idle Iona and Saint Peter’s for second place in the MAAC Standings with just two games remaining.
Wright shot 9-15 from the field and added six assists for Siena (14-15, 11-7) which has come full circle in winning 10 of 14 since hitting its lowest point of the season with last month’s loss at Niagara (9-20, 6-12) which dropped the team to 4-11 at the time. Bisping was 6-9 from the floor including 3-4 from distance for the Saints which have won eight of nine against the Purple Eagles under head coach Jimmy Patsos.
USC transfer Kahlil Dukes led all scorers with 23 points, and Matt Scott added 16 for Niagara which has lost five of six in February.
Siena went on a 15-4 run late in the first half to open a 10-point lead, en route to claiming a 41-35 lead at the break. But the Purple Eagles opened the second half on a 9-2 run to reclaim the lead, and the teams would jockey for position thereafter.
However the Saints would make some clutch shots late, namely from distance, to secure the win. Siena, which came in ranked 10th worst nationally averaging just 4.8 threes per game, made five consecutive field goals from beyond the arc down the stretch. Wright and freshman guard Ahsante Shivers connected on the final two to extend the Saints’ lead to eight with 3:09 to go which would prove to be enough.
Senior swing Lavon Long added 14 points and eight rebounds for Siena which shot 50.9%, in eclipsing 50% from the field in all three home games this week.
Meanwhile Niagara shot only 39.7% including just 4-18 from distance despite entering play ranked 31st nationally shooting 39.1% from beyond the arc. The Purple Eagles, who also came in ranked 27th nationally in free throw percentage (.757), did themselves no favors in a tight game which featured seven ties and 14 lead changes in shooting just 8-15 from the charity stripe.
Following a week-long three-game homestand, and four games overall in the past eight days, the Saints will have a chance to catch their breath heading into the final week of the regular season. Siena doesn’t return to action until Friday when they head to MAAC Regular Season Champion Monmouth for a nationally televised showdown at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.