Feb. 10, 2008
Niagara University, N.Y. - For the second time in less than 48 hours, the Siena women's basketball team came from behind in the closing seconds to pull off a thrilling 76-75 win over Niagara this afternoon at the Gallagher Center. The win snapped a six game losing streak for the Saints (9-14, 5-8) at Niagara as the Green and Gold accomplished their first sweep of their western New York trip since the 2001-02 season.
"I thought we had a great effort today on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court," remarked head coach Gina Castelli. "I'm really proud of this team being able to pull out two tough games out here this weekend."
The Saints came out firing and led for the entire first half, padding their lead to as much as 12 (32-20) at the 1:34 mark following a Laura Menty layup. Menty posted 15 points in the first half, in the process passing Liene Jansone '04 into sole possession of fifth place on Siena's all-time scoring list.
Niagara made a quick run at the end of the half, but the Saints retained a 32-24 lead entering intermission.
In the second half, the Saints would match their largest lead of the season (13) following a mid-court steal and fast break lay in by Heather Stec that gave Siena a 44-31 cushion with 15:12 remaining.
But the resilient Purple Eagles (5-19, 3-10) shot 57% in the second half and clawed their way back into the ball game, going on an 18-8 run over the next four and a half minutes to pull within three, 52-49.
The teams would trade baskets for rest of the half. Following a Shondaya Burrell free throw which gave Siena a 74-73 lead with 1:01 left, Niagara's Jennifer McNamee stormed down the court and hit a contested baseline jumper with 46 seconds remaining to give Niagara their only lead of the game, 75-74.
But the Saints would dig deep and on the ensuing possession, Stec nailed a free throw line jumper that rattled around the rim and in to put Siena up 76-75 with 27 seconds on the clock.
With one last chance remaining, the Purple Eagles' Sarah Wilson missed a runner in the lane and Stec corralled the rebound as the clock hit triple zeroes.
The win was the Saints first at the Gallagher Center since a 75-73 triumph on Jan. 31, 2002 and also made it four wins in four tries for Siena against their western New York foes this season. It was also the first time in six years that the Green and Gold made it four for four against Niagara and Canisius during the regular season..
Menty led four Saints in double figures, tallying 20 points. Others included Burrell (16), Melissa Manzer (11) and Serena Moore who scored a career high 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting off the bench in 17 minutes of action. Burrell and Liga Alpe-Luka also tallied six assists apiece.
Wilson paced Niagara with a career high 28 points and 10 rebounds, while McNamee chipped in with 16.
Both teams shot exceptionally well from the floor with Siena shooting 53.1% (26-49) and Niagara shooting 47.4% (27-57) including 7 of 13 from three point range during their second half comeback attempt.
The Saints will now enjoy some time off as they will not return to the court for six days, when they look to make it a perfect 3-0 on their road trip when they battle Fairfield. Tip time is set for 12 NOON.