Feb. 26, 2012
Pretty much everything went Siena's way Sunday afternoon. Pretty much. Kyle Downey scored a career-high 28 points on his Senior Day in an 86-75 rout of Canisius, and the Saints got the help they needed from rival Marist to avoid playing in the First Round of this week's MAAC Championships.
As a result, Siena earned the No. 6 seed, and will play No. 3 seed Manhattan Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. in Springfield, Mass. The Saints have knocked the Jaspers out of the MAAC Tournament four of the last five years. Manhattan won 20 games in the regular-season, but lost four of its last six MAAC contests, including a decisive 70-64 setback in Albany February 14 and a 62-60 home loss to Loyola Sunday.
Still, there were some anxious moments at Times Union Center late in the game. Evan Hymes, a leading candidate for MAAC Rookie of the Year, and the Saints only proven option at point guard, had to be helped off the court after injuring his left knee trying to block a shot with 4:18 to play. Hymes was taken to an Albany hospital after the game where X-Rays on the knee turned up negative. Siena's sports medicine staff indicated Hymes would likely be held out of practice for a couple days, and his status for Saturday's game will depend on how quickly the injury heals.
On the court, Downey and the Saints eliminated much of the suspense early, racing out to a 46-29 lead at the break after their second highest scoring half of the season.
"I'm really proud of this team," Buoanguro said. "Given the circumstances, this was a tremendous accomplishment."
The highlight of the game came just 52 seconds into live action, when former walk-on Conner Fenlon swished a deep 3-pointer from the left wing for the first field goal of his career. Siena coach Mitch Buoanguro chose to start Fenlon, who had played just seven minutes all season entering the game.
Karma was definitely on Siena's side.
While the Saints were taking care of business in Albany, they had one eye on the scoreboard in Poughkeepsie, where Marist didn't disappoint, disposing of Niagara 89-77.
OD Anosike had 16 points and 16 rebounds for his nation-leading 22nd double-double of the season. Anosike also had a career-high four assists, and improved his nation-leading rebounding average to 12.9 boards per contest.
Downey added seven rebounds and five assists in 39 minutes.
"That may have been the best game of Downey's career," Buoanguro said.
Hymes added 12 points, four rebounds and three assists. Rob Poole came off the bench to score 10 points in 27 minutes.
Senior Owen Wignot played well too. He scored seven points, grabbed six rebounds and added three assists.
The Saints finished off a great season at home, where they won 10 of 14 games, including eight of their last nine.
The problems have come away from home, where the Saints will need to win three times in three days starting Saturday to capture their sixth MAAC title. But they won't have to win four games, and with Springfield just 90 miles from Albany, the Saints may have the support of the fans in attendance as well.
Would it be a surprise if Siena won the MAAC Championship? Sure. But this team has been full of surprises all season.