Tournament Tested. Tournament Approved!
March 8, 2010
Siena rallied from a 13-point second half deficit to defeat Fairfield 72-65 in overtime in the MAAC title game Monday night in Albany. The Saints earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament where they have won First Round games each of the last two years.
The second-seeded Stags (22-10) put up a game fight before losing to the Saints for the third time this season.
Franklin's runner in the lane snapped a 60-all tie just 16 seconds into the extra period and the Saints never trailed again in winning the MAAC Tournament for the fifth time. Ryan Rossiter's tip follow and Franklin's layin boosted the lead to 68-64 with 1:50 left.
Freshman guard Derek Needham, who had 16 points to lead the Stags, missed twice in the final minute and Ubiles sank four free throws to secure the victory.
The Saints, 5-3 in MAAC title games, trailed at the half in their victories over Manhattan and Rider in the previous two rounds and improved to 6-1 against Fairfield in the MAAC tournament.
Ronald Moore had nine points and six assists for the Saints to increase his career assists total to 818, the most in MAAC history and 25th most all-time in Division I. The nation's assist leader also hit the biggest shot of the game.
His 3-pointer from the left side with 2:05 remaining in regulation gave the Saints a 60-58 lead, their first since the 14:15 mark of the first half.
Moore was shooting just 22% from 3-point range entering the game, but he's hit big shots before. The two biggest came in last year's NCAA win over Ohio State, the second of which came with just three seconds remaining in double overtime, propelling the Saints into the Second Round.
Colin Nickerson tied it with 54 seconds left on a layup off a 3-on-1 break and the Saints forced the overtime by committing three fouls in the final seconds and surviving a missed 3 from the left corner at the buzzer by Nickerson.
Siena, which trailed by double digits over the final 8:46 of the first half, finally moved within 45-36 on a slam dunk by Franklin off a feed from Ubiles with 16:51 to go. Moore, who had just committed a turnover when one of his passes sailed out of bounds, stole the ball back right away to set up the basket.
It was Franklin's third basket in the first 3:10 of play, and the MAAC Tournament MVP wasn't finished. Rossiter's steal set up Franklin's layup off the glass, and Rossiter followed with a jumper from the top of the key to complete a 10-2 run that moved the Saints within 45-40 with 15:49 remaining and energized the partisan home crowd.
Siena pulled within a basket after Needham was stuffed on a drive in the lane and intentionally fouled Moore as Moore tried to streak back the other way with the ball. Moore sank both free throws to cut the lead to 49-47 at 12:27, but Ubiles missed a spinning jumper from 12 feet on the ensuing possession.
The Stags gained a 53-47 edge on Mike Evanovich's follow of a missed 3 by Needham, but they committed turnovers on consecutive possessions and the Saints came back to tie it on three straight baskets by Ubiles. His layup at 7:45 rolled around the rim and in to make it 53-all.
Crawford's 3-pointer from the right wing, just his second basket of the game, put the Stags up 58-55 with 3:28 left before Franklin's layup moved Siena within a point.
In the opening half, the Saints had trouble containing Needham, who had 11 points, and 6-foot-11 Ryan Olander. Olander, who had 20 points off the bench in the first two rounds, had five points in a 73-second span to get the Stags going, his one-handed slam dunk putting Fairfield up 16-13 at 11:51.
Siena, which trailed at the half in each of its first two games of the tournament, never moved closer than 10 points before the break and left the court trailing 39-28, its largest halftime deficit of the season.
The Saints head back to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in program history. They become the first school to win the MAAC Championship three straight times since LaSalle did it 20 years ago. Siena did it all three years on its home floor, this time in front of 10,679 fans - enough to push the Tournament attendance to an all-time high of 53,569. Nearly all of them played a role in this victory.