Feb. 24, 2008
Loudonville, N.Y. - On senior day, senior tri-captain Laura Menty scored the game-winning basket with 1:19 remaining as the Saints slipped past Fairfield, 62-56 at the Alumni Recreation Center. Menty tallied 28 points on a phenomenal 11-for-13 shooting performance as Siena secured their first win of the season in Loudonville and snapped a three game losing streak overall. Prior to the game, the Saints honored their graduating seniors and tri-captains in Menty, Melissa Manzer and Liga Alpe-Luka in a pregame ceremony.
"It was a wonderful celebration of three players who have really given so much of themselves the last four years," noted head coach Gina Castelli on her three seniors. "It was even better as well that all three of them made significant contributions in this game, especially at the end."
Both teams used strong defensive efforts in the first half as Fairfield (19-8, 9-7) limited the Saints (10-17, 6-11) to just 32.1% from the floor (9-28) but it was Siena that headed into intermission with a 23-21 lead. The Saints played an up-tempo full court pressure defense in the opening stanza that forced the Stags into nine turnovers.
"I thought defense was something that we really needed to improve on after the last few games," added Castelli. "We played very strong in the first half and made some key defensive stops at the end of the game that proved to be the difference."
In the second half, the Green and Gold built their lead to as many as seven (30-23) on a Menty layup at the 14:57 mark. Menty continued her dominance of Fairfield this season and has now incredibly made 21 of her 25 field goal attempts (84.0%) against the Stags this season. The Saints had an oustanding second half shooting as they went 14-for-21 (66.7%) as a team in the stanza.
But as soon as Menty got going, Fairfield forward Baendu Lowenthal almost single-handedly brought back the Stags. Lowenthal scored 19 of her 21 points in the second half on 8-for-10 shooting and gave the Stags their final lead of the game at 55-52 with 2:26 remaining following a three point play. That would prove to be Fairfield's final field goal of the game.
But on senior day, it was the Saints three seniors who came through to carry the Green and Gold to victory in the end. Lowenthal's three point play had followed up a three by Alpe-Luka on the previous possession that had tied the game. Meanwhile after Menty put the Saints back on top for good at 56-55 at the 1:19 mark, she again would strike for the decisive basket with 20 seconds left to give Siena a four point cushion. Manzer then added the cherry on top with two clutch free throws with under 10 seconds to go to seal the win.
In what was a highly competitive back and forth battle, the teams played to eight ties and eleven lead changes. The Stags, who came in shooting an abysmal 64% from the free throw line this season, again shot themselves in the foot, making only seven of their 15 attempts. Sabra Wrice complimented Lowenthal's offensive efforts with 16 points and four threes.
Shondaya Burrell added 14 points and 6 rebounds to the Saints offensive showing, while Alpe-Luka distributed seven assists. The Green and Gold were strong protecting the rock, tallying 15 assists while only committing a season-low 12 turnovers.
With one game left in the regular season, Siena can be either the #6, 7 or 8 seed in next month's MAAC Tournament. The Saints will perhaps get a tournament preview on Friday as they travel to Lawrenceville for the regular season finale against the Broncs who have secured the #10 seed and would play the Saints if they finish seventh. Game time is slated for 4:30 p.m. from Alumni Hall in a nationally telecast game on ESPNU.