Saints March On, Drill Niagara in First Round

Evan Hymes led the Saints with 14 points Thursday night
March 5, 2015

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Senior Evan Hymes scored eight of his 14 points during a key 14-6 run to open the second half and inspired Siena never looked back in a 71-54 blowout of Niagara in the First Round of the MAAC Tournament Thursday at Times Union Center.

"I'm really proud of our guys," Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said. "The one word we wrote on the board was `confidence'. It's time to have confidence. Sometimes you over think things. I think we lacked a little confidence, sometimes losing can do that."

Siena ran its postseason win streak to 13 games in its downtown Albany home where it won three straight conference championships from 2008-2010.

Siena shot 50% from the field and dominated nearly every facet of the game in perhaps its most complete effort of the season. Niagara scored the first basket, but Siena ran off eight straight after that and never trailed again.

Ryan Oliver, Marquis Wright and Willem Brandwijk all hit threes during an 11-2 spurt that pushed the lead to 32-18 late in the first half, and Siena took a 34-22 lead to the lockerroom.

The lead ballooned to as many as 21 after the Hymes' inspired run to start the second stanza and Siena was on cruise control from that point on.

Sophomore point guard Marquis Wright was the engine, playing 39 minutes with 11 points, six assists and no turnovers. Oliver followed up an 18-point effort Sunday with 11 points, and sophomore Lavon Long had 10 points and six rebounds in 22 energetic minutes.

"I didn't think Evan or Ryan would let us lose," Patsos said. "Lavon's energy early was good."

Leading scorer Rob Poole battled through obvious ankle pain to score eight points. He sat out Sunday's regular-season finale.

"Rob Poole really gutted it out, he did all he could," Patsos said. "I don't know if he'll play Saturday."

Siena was as focused as it has been all season on defense. Niagara shot 40% from the field and made just 1-11 threes. Dominique Reed made nine of Niagara's 20 field goals on his way to a game-high 24 points.

"They didn't make threes, we were lucky with that," Patsos said. "We worked on stopping their threes because they had won four in a row. They were the hottest team in a very competitive conference."

Siena advances to the quarterfinals for the 25th time in its 26 years in the conference where it will meet top-seed Iona Saturday at high noon. Iona is the only team with a winning record against Siena in MAAC Tournament play having won all six previous meetings.