(NEWS10) – Siena shot 64% in the second half and closed the game on a 30-15 run to post a key 81-78 MAAC victory in New Rochelle Saturday. Nico Clareth led a balanced effort with 20 points, and his step-back jumper with 2:17 left gave Siena a 77-70 lead.
A.J. English scored a game-high 31 points for Iona (14-10, 11-4), and had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer with a long, contested three after Clareth made 1-2 free throws.
Siena (18-9, 11-5) snapped a seven game losing streak to Iona, and won at the Hynes Center for the first time since 2010.
The Saints overcame 23 turnovers (15 in the first half), with stellar defense when it mattered most. Siena used a 3-2 match-up zone for most of the afternoon that limited Iona to 39% from the field and 8-30 from three-point range.
Brett Bisping had 19 points and 13 rebounds despite not practicing all week with flu-like symptoms, and playing in his second game in three days. The Saints dispatched Canisius 90-67 in Albany Thursday night, and won for just the second time in seven tries this season when playing with less than 48 hours rest.
Iona led 63-51 after Isaiah Williams’ three-pointer with 11:27 left. Siena scored the next 11 points, pulling with 63-62 on Lavon Long’s driving lay up through contact. Ryan Oliver’s third three-pointer of the second half gave Siena a 68-67 lead with 5:32 left, and the Saints never looked back.
Javion Ogunyemi scored on Siena’s next trip, and Bisping’s three with 3:07 left made it 75-70. Iona scored six straight to cut the lead to 77-76 with 42 seconds left, taking advantage of three straight Siena turnovers. Bisping made one of two free throws to push the lead to two, and then English’s lay-up rimmed out on the other end. Ogunyemi made two free throws to put Siena up 80-76 to set up the climactic finish.
Ogunyemi scored 19 points and had four blocks for the Saints. Williams finished with 20 points for the Gaels.
Siena pulled within half a game of the Gaels for second place in the MAAC standings with the rematch looming in Albany in just nine days.