Youth saves seniors' day

CaptionCloseAlbanyIt was a troubling scene for the Siena men's basketball team on Senior Day. But only briefly.Playing in his final regular-season home game, point guard Marquis Wright limped to the bench 23 seconds into the second half. He sat down and...

Youth saves seniors' day




It was a troubling scene for the Siena men's basketball team on Senior Day. But only briefly.

Playing in his final regular-season home game, point guard Marquis Wright limped to the bench 23 seconds into the second half. He sat down and stuffed a bag of ice under his shorts on his right hip, which had taken a knee from a Marist player.

He was out for only 53 seconds. He checked back in and, on Siena's next possession, sank a 3-pointer from the left corner for a six-point lead. The Saints were on their way to an 80-64 victory before a season-high paid attendance of 7,378 in the final regular-season home game for Wright and his four senior classmates.

"My hip has hurt for a while, but it would be on and off," Wright said. "Today, it was bothering me before the game. I stretched it out. It loosened up until then, until I took a knee to the hip, like a sharp pain. I came out for a minute and then said, 'Nah, I got to play through it. It's my last regular-season game.'"

It's understandable that Wright, playing in his 118th game, would feel the aches and pains that accumulate over a four-year career. He still played 32 minutes and scored a game-high 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting with seven assists.

But when Siena fell behind by 10 points early against hot-shooting Marist, it was the young legs of sophomore guard Nico Clareth that helped ignite the Saints.

Siena 80, marist 64

MARIST (8-23, 5-15)

Player Min FG FT R A Pts

Lamb 19 0-1 1-2 0 0 1

Funk 37 5-11 4-4 6 0 18

Brooks 15 2-4 1-2 4 0 5

Hart 34 6-14 2-2 0 5 17

Knudsen 24 5-9 1-1 3 2 13

Mitchell 24 2-6 0-0 4 2 5

Sjoberg 15 1-1 0-0 1 1 2

Palsson 22 1-5 0-0 2 1 3

Momah 5 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

McClenaghan 5 0-1 0-0 0 0 0


Totals 22-52 9-11 25 11 64

SIENA (15-16, 12-8)

Player Min FG FT R A Pts

Ogunyemi 28 2-7 0-0 8 3 5

Merrill 8 0-3 0-0 3 0 0

Long 36 8-13 1-1 7 3 18

Bisping 32 3-6 0-0 12 2 6

Wright 32 9-16 2-2 4 7 23

Brandwijk 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Huerter, Jr. 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Richard 8 0-2 0-0 2 1 0

Smithen 5 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Clareth 28 7-14 2-3 3 3 22

Shivers 11 2-3 0-0 0 0 4

Fisher 3 0-0 0-2 0 0 0

Friday 5 1-2 0-0 0 0 2


Totals 32-66 5-8 40 19 80

Halftime—Siena, 45-40. 3-point goals—Marist 11-27 (McClenaghan 0-1, Palsson 1-4, Mitchell 1-2, Knudsen 2-6, Hart 3-5, Funk 4-9). Siena 11-28 (Clareth 6-13, Wright 3-6, Bisping 0-1, Long 1-4, Merrill 0-3, Ogunyemi 1-1). Fouls—Marist 13 (McClenaghan, Momah, Palsson 2, Sjoberg 3, Mitchell, Knudsen, Funk 2, Lamb). Siena 17 (Fisher, Shivers 2, Clareth 2, Richard, Huerter, Jr., Wright, Bisping 3, Long 2, Merrill, Ogunyemi 3). Blocked shots—Siena 2 (Clareth 2). Turnovers—Marist 13 (McClenaghan, Momah, Palsson, Sjoberg 2, Hart, Brooks, Funk 3, Lamb 3). Siena 12 (Fisher, Clareth 3, Richard, Wright 3, Bisping 2, Long 2). Steals—Marist 5 (Palsson, Mitchell, Knudsen, Hart, Brooks). Siena 6 (Clareth 2, Wright 3). Technical fouls—Marist (Team). A—7,378.

Clareth scored 22 points and made 6 of 13 3-pointers to boost the Saints, who had lost a hard-fought game at regular-season champion Monmouth only two days earlier.

"Nico deserved a lot of credit," Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said. "The old guys, they're old for a reason. The seniors, they're doing their best but a little bit of a slow start after a very tough game Friday night. But I appreciate that we battled, and we needed some fresh legs and energy, and I thought Nico provided it defensively, on the bench and making shots."

Clareth also had a spectacular lefty block of Marist guard Richie Mitchell on a breakaway that Wright turned into a difficult layup for a three-point play and a 56-48 lead with 13:39 remaining.

"Did it hundreds of times before," said Clareth, never lacking confidence. "Same thing. Been doing it since high school."

Siena cruised home from there to finish the regular season at 15-16 overall, 12-8 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Picked to finish second in the preseason coaches' poll, the Saints came back from a 4-11 overall start to finish in a tie with Iona for third place.

Losing a tiebreaker, the Saints will be the No. 4 seed and face fifth-seeded Fairfield in the MAAC Tournament on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. in Times Union Center.

Siena swept its two regular-season meetings with the Stags.

"I feel great," said Siena senior forward Lavon Long, who had 18 points and seven rebounds. "I feel confident that every experience up until now has taught our guys what we need to do to be successful. And I really think us playing well is just us committing to those points."

One area in which Siena has improved greatly is its 3-point shooting, which coincides with Clareth's return to the team after a seven-game leave of absence.

In the seven games since Clareth came back, they're shooting 40.1 percent from behind the arc and making 7.9 3-pointers per game. Before that, the Saints were among the 10 worst in the country at 29.1 percent and 4.5, respectively.

They were 11 for 28 from long range against Marist.

"We have a lot of different guys that can have big nights," said fifth-year senior forward Brett Bisping, who had six points and 12 rebounds. "When we take good 3s, I think they go in, so we know we go inside-out. I think that gives us another good weapon that can make us play better."

Senior walk-on Jimmy Merrill missed all three of his 3-pointers in his first career start, which left his teammates disappointed for him. But the Columbia High graduate gave the team a pregame speech and grabbed three rebounds in eight minutes.

"We were all very excited he got to start," Bisping said. "There's not a better guy than Jimmy Merrill."

Senior forward Javion Ogunyemi of Troy High had five points and eight rebounds. He was joined on the court before the game by his father and 11-year-old brother Quentin, who wore an Ogunyemi jersey.

"It just meant a lot," Ogunyemi said. "I was glad I had a lot of support."

Ryan Funk had 18 points for Marist, which fell to 8-23, 5-15. • 518-454-5509 • @MarkSingelais

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