BETHLEHEM, PA -- Junior guard Nico Clareth eclipsed the 30-point mark for the second time in his career, but it wasn't quite enough as Siena Basketball fell 91-90 to Lehigh in an overtime classic at Stabler Arena. Clareth scored 30 points which included six threes for the Saints in a tightly fought battle which featured 14 ties and 15 lead changes.
Kyle Leufroy equaled a career-high with 23 points for Lehigh (2-1), including the game-tying layup with 1.1 seconds to go in regulation. He also hit two clutch free throws for the Mountain Hawks' final points to extend the lead to five with 23.9 seconds remaining in overtime.
However, red-shirt junior guard Kadeem Smithen was fouled on the ensuing inbounds and made both free throws, and sophomore guard Ahsante Shivers stole the ball and was fouled on the following play. Shivers drained both foul shots to rally Siena (0-3) within 91-90 with 10.6 seconds left.
Lehigh's Caleb Bennett left the door open by missing both free throws with 3.4 ticks on the clock and the Saints grabbed the rebound, but they couldn't get a look at the potential game-winning shot off before the final buzzer sounded.
Shivers scored a career-high 16 points off the bench and Smithen also added a career-high with 11 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists for Siena which played in its second overtime affair in three games to open the season, and third in its past four games overall dating back to last year. Sophomore guard Khalil Richard rounded out the Saints' four double figure scorers with 10 points in recording his third consecutive double-digit scoring effort to open the year.
The Mountain Hawks also placed four scorers in double figures led by East Carolina transfer Lance Tejada who notched a career-high 26 points. Pat Andree contributed 16 points and nine rebounds, and Preseason All-Patriot League selection Kahron Ross added 10 points and eight assists for Lehigh which was also playing its second overtime contest in three games to open its season.
After averaging just 56.5 points while shooting only 34.1% from the field over their first two games, Siena found its offensive stroke. The Saints shot 57% from the floor in a highly entertaining first half, although they trailed 43-39 at the break as the Mountain Hawks dished out 13 assists on their 17 made field goals, and scored 13 of their points off Siena turnovers.
The Saints continued their hot shooting in connecting at a 53% clip in the second half, and reclaimed a 79-78 lead on a layup by freshman guard Roman Penn with 2:06 remaining. That would remain the score until 6.5 seconds left when Shivers made one of two free throws and, following a timeout, Leufroy went coast-to-coast to send the game to overtime.
Siena cooled off in the extra session in missing eight of their nine field goal attempts, but did rectify their foul shooting woes by going a solid 8-10 from the line in overtime. The Saints shot just 4-12 from the charity stripe in regulation, while Lehigh was 19-25 overall for the game.
Freshman forward Prince Oduro narrowly missed what would have been his second double-double in his first three collegiate games as he posted nine points and 10 rebounds off the bench for Siena which held a 40-24 advantage in points in the paint. Meanwhile classmate and fellow reserve Penn scored first nine collegiate points for the Saints, which saw their nine-game winning streak vs. Patriot League foes dating back to 2006 snapped.
The Mountain Hawks, which have advanced to back-to-back Patriot League Championship Games and who were receiving votes in this week's College Insider Mid-Major Top-25 Poll, shot 12-27 from three-point range. Siena was Lehigh's third straight MAAC opponent to open the year, as the Mountain Hawks won their season-opener in overtime at Marist 84-76 Saturday, before dropping their home opener to Monmouth 80-72 on Tuesday.
The Saints play their fourth straight 20-win opponent to open the season, and conclude their long weekend vs. Patriot League contenders in the Keystone State Monday, when they face the conference's defending champion and preseason favorite Bucknell at 7 p.m. in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.