SPRINGFIELD, MASS. - For a third straight season, Siena made history in the MAAC Tournament. And, once again, they were on the right side of it. The sixth seeded Saints went without a field goal for the final 13:36 and didn't score in the last 8:40 but had just enough to gut out a 34-33 victory over No. 3 seed Manhattan in the quarterfinals of the MAAC Tournament.
Siena (12-16) advances to the MAAC Semifinals for the second straight year where it will meet No. 2 seed Fairfield at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Fairfield defeated Iona 61-45 earlier Friday morning and, in what has become an almost annual tradition, the Saints and Stags will meet in the MAAC Tournament for the seventh time in the past eight years.
Last season, Siena defeated Fairfield 36-33 in the MAAC Championships in what was the lowest scoring game in tournament history. It broke the record of 70 combined points the previous season in a Siena First Round win over Rider. This year, Siena and Manhattan (16-15) would shatter that record once more.
Maja Gerlyng knocked down a huge three from the right wing with 13:36 remaining, giving the Saints a 32-21 lead. The teams would go scoreless over the next five minutes until Gerlyng sunk a pair of free throws to give Siena its biggest lead of the game, 34-21, with 8:40 remaining. Siena would not score again, missing its final seven shots and committing six turnovers.
Manhattan slowly chipped away, going on a 12-0 run with the last seven points coming from Schyanne Halfkenny. Halfkenny capped the run with a three to make it 34-33 with 1:46 remaining.
After the teams failed to score again in a game where points where at a premium, it came down to one final chance for the Jaspers. With nine seconds remaining Maggie Blair missed a three from the right wing and in the ensuing scrum to corral the loose ball, Tehresa Coles came out of the pack with it as Siena exhaled and celebrated.
Siena shot just 25% (12-48) from the field and committed 25 turnovers, while the Jaspers shot 32.6% (14-43) and turned the ball over 24 times.
In the first half, the teams also had a combined scoreless drought of 6:47 and neither team made a field goal in nearly nine minutes as the Saints took a 20-13 lead into the lockerroom.
Clara Sole Anglada and Kanika Cummings sparked the Saints early. Sole Anglada led the way with 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals, while Cummings added eight points off the bench. Lily Grenci, the MAAC's second leading scorer, saw her 19-game streak of scoring in double figures snapped as she finished with six points and 10 rebounds.
Halfkenny and Lindsey Loutsenhizer capped their collegiate careers with 10 points apiece for the Jaspers.
Now Siena must rest and prepare for a quick turnaround tomorrow morning against Fairfield. The Stags swept the Saints during the regular season and Siena will be looking to make history if it can win and become the first-ever No. 6 seed on the women's side to advance to the MAAC Championship game.