BRONX, N.Y. - Down by 23 points midway through the first half it appeared that it would be a long day for the Saints. But Siena battled back and nearly pulled off a historic upset before coming up just short in a 57-50 defeat against Villanova in the 2010 Fordham Holiday Classic.
Cristina Centeno spurred the Saints' (1-8) second half run scoring 16 of the team's 25 points in the period, almost single-handedly bringing the team all the way back. But time was on Villanova's (6-6) side as the Wildcats let out a collective sigh of relief as the final buzzer sounded.
Villanova got off to a tremendous start, knocking down 12-for-18 from the field including 7-for-11 from three-point range in building a commanding 31-8 lead at the 9:16 mark. But from that point on, it would be all Siena as the Saints' outscored Villanova 42-26 the rest of the way.
Siena ended the half on a 17-6 run as Centeno, Serena Moore and Maja Gerlyng came to life in accounting for all of the team's points as the Saints pulled to within 12 (37-25) and with momentum on their side heading into the half.
The teams battled back and forth in the second half with Siena getting as close as nine (43-34) on a Lily Grenci running layup with 10:51 to go. But the Wildcats responded with an 8-0 run to seemingly put the game out of reach.
Down 17 and with their backs against the wall yet again, Siena battled back with a 16-6 run for the remainder of the game. Down 10 with a minute to go, Siena even got to as close as five in the waning seconds before falling just short.
Poor free throw shooting crippled the Saints in their comeback bid as Siena shot just 3-for-13 from the less than charitable stripe and have hit just 16-for-43 (37.2%) from the line in their past three games.
Centeno was tremendous, tying her career-high with 24 points which included five threes. Moore added her third double-double of the season with 11 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
Rachel Roberts led three Villanova players in double figures with 18 points, 15 of which came during the first half when she hit all six of her field goals and all three of her three-point attempts. Lindsay Kimmel added 17 and Laura Sweeney scored 10 as the Wildcats' snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Saints return to action for their final game of 2010 tomorrow as they take on the tournament host Rams in a 1 p.m. tip on the final day of the 2010 Fordham Holiday Classic. Fordham was an easy 62-44 victor over Yale earlier today and enters Thursday's matchup with a 7-7 record.