ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Siena Basketball shot a blistering 54.5% from the field, but defending Big South Champion UNC Asheville connected at an even better 57.6% clip as the Bulldogs defeated the Saints 92-80 in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at Kimmel Arena. Senior guard/forward Lavon Long was one of four Saints in double figures, scoring 13 points in his season debut including the 1,000th of his career.
Five players scored in double figures for UNC Asheville (2-2), including all three of its reserves which combined to erupt for 51 points. Reserve Raekwon Miller and Alex Wnuk each posted career highs with 18 and 16 points respectively for the Bulldogs, which led for all but 41 seconds.
Senior forward Javion Ogunyemi and freshman guard Khalil Richard paced Siena (1-3) with 16 points apiece. Richard shot 6-7 from the field and added four rebounds, four assists, and three steals in 25 minutes off the bench.
UNC Asheville opened the game on a 12-5 spurt and led by between two and four possessions for the vast majority of the remainder of the game, continually holding the Saints at arm’s length.
Both teams shots 53% from the field in the first half, but the Bulldogs took a 43-35 lead at the break thanks in large part of their pressuring defense. UNC Asheville, which led the nation averaging 9.2 steals per game last season, recorded six first half thefts in forcing 10 Siena turnovers which led to 14 points. The Bulldogs finished with 11 steals for the game, turning over the Saints 19 times. Siena had entered play ranking seventh nationally in the early going, averaging just 8.3 turnovers per game.
The Saints scored the first six points of the second half to close within two, but could get no closer. Siena continued to battle and trailed by just four, 74-70 with 6:53 to play, but UNC Asheville responded with a 16-5 run to pull away.
Long added four rebounds, five assists and a pair of blocks in a vintage stat-stuffing performance, in addition to becoming the 43rd player in program history to eclipse the 1,000 career point benchmark. Classmate Marquis Wright added 14 points and seven assists for the Saints which dished out 21 assists as a team.
MaCio Teague contributed 17 points off the bench, and Ahmad Thomas added 16 for the Bulldogs which shot 63% from the field in the second half, and ended the game by making 10 of their final 14 shots.
Following a season long three-game road trip, Siena returns to the Capital Region to close out competition in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic Wednesday. The Saints will play their fourth game in eight days when they host Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a 7 p.m. tip at the Times Union Center.