Siena bas­ket­ball

Turnover sets up Crim­son, but ty­ing shot is off-tar­get as Saints end los­ing streak

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Sin­ge­lais Al­bany

Turnover sets up Crim­son, but ty­ing shot is off-tar­get as Saints end los­ing streak.

Siena men’s bas­ket­ball coach Jamion Chris­tian isn’t one to de­nounce his play­ers for mak­ing an er­ror, even one that could have lost a game.

He even chuck­led as se­nior for­ward Kevin Deg­nan talked about his blun­der that put Har­vard in a position to tie the game in the fi­nal sec­onds on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

“It was just a dumb mis­take,” Deg­nan said. “It won’t hap­pen again, that’s all I’ll say about it.”

It was a teach­ing mo­ment for the Saints, but for­tu­nately for them, one that still ended in a 67-64 vic­tory over the Ivy League fa­vorite Crim­son be­fore a crowd of 5,650 at Times Union Cen­ter.

Siena (3-5) snapped a fourgame los­ing streak.

Har­vard ju­nior guard Justin Bassey back-rimmed a 3-pointer from the right side that would have tied the game with 2.5 sec­onds left.

The op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self af­ter Deg­nan couldn’t han­dle a long pass from Manny Camper for a layup that would have sealed the win. Deg­nan saved the ball from go­ing out of bounds but his pass went right to Har­vard guard Chris­tian Juzang, who pushed it up the floor to set up Bassey for the shot.

But the at­tempt was long, and Chris­tian had his first home vic­tory as Saints coach.

“It helps them lis­ten to me more, which I think is what we need to do,” Chris­tian quipped. “But I think it just val­i­dates what we’re say­ing to them. The re­al­ity is, we have a lot of guys that are on the floor right now that haven’t been in that sit­u­a­tion be­fore. The first thing we’ll do in prac­tice when we get there on Mon­day, I’ll say to the guys, “What did we learn?’ We say that same ques­tion whether we win or lose and that’s my way of say­ing, it’s not about the out­come.”

Rather, it’s about get­ting bet­ter as the Saints con­tinue their pre-con­fer­ence sched­ule with an

eye to­ward Metro At­lantic Ath­letic Con­fer­ence play that be­gins in Jan­uary.

All the bet­ter the Saints still won the game, de­spite nearly squan­der­ing an eight-point lead with 40 sec­onds to play.

“We had some mo­ments where we played poorly,” Chris­tian said. “We con­tinue to find those mo­ments where we can im­prove our­selves. And have a for­giv­ing heart for the mis­takes you make so you’re not so hard on your­selves. That should al­low you to learn from it and im­prove and we’ll con­tinue that same process right now.”

There was much good to be taken from the vic­tory, as well. Deg­nan scored a ca­reer-high 16 points, in­clud­ing 11 in the sec­ond half.

Fresh­man point guard Jalen Pick­ett had an­other strong game with 14 points, eight of them com­ing on jumpers that beat the shot-clock buzzer, and eight as­sists.

Fresh­man for­ward Sammy Fri­day con­tin­ued to be a fac­tor off the bench with 10 points. Dur­ing one key se­quence, he threw a pass to a cut­ting Camper for a dunk and then had his own dunk off a Deg­nan feed to put Siena ahead 58-48 with 5:40 to play.

“It gives us a lit­tle mo­men­tum go­ing into the next game (at St. Bon­aven­ture Wed­nes­day),” Fri­day said. “One of the things coach says is, stay even through­out the game. Mon­day, when we go to prac­tice, just try to keep a level head. Stay hun­gry, stay hum­ble.”

The Saints pre­vailed de­spite los­ing se­nior for­ward Evan Fisher to an ap­par­ent right an­kle in­jury in the sec­ond half. He landed awk­wardly af­ter con­test­ing a 3-pointer by Juzang with 7:27 re­main­ing.

Fisher sat on the bench with his right leg propped on a chair and didn’t re­turn. Chris­tian said he didn’t know the sever­ity of the in­jury.

Har­vard (4-4) had its share of in­juries. Three of its top play­ers sat on the bench in suits. Ju­nior for­ward Chris Lewis, who is the team’s lead­ing scorer, missed his third straight game. Reign­ing Ivy League Player of the Year Seth Towns and for­mer con­fer­ence Rookie of the Year Bryce Aiken still haven’t played this season.

None of which di­min­ished the vic­tory, ac­cord­ing to Chris­tian.

“They’re missing three very

Pho­tos by Phoebe Shee­han / Spe­cial to the Times Union

Siena guard Jalen Pick­ett shoots against Har­vard Satur­day at the Times Union Cen­ter. Pick­ett scored 14 points and the Saints won 67-64.

Siena men’s bas­ket­ball head coach Jamion Chris­tian re­acts af­ter a play against Har­vard on Satur­day at the Times Union Cen­ter.

Phoebe Shee­han / Spe­cial to the times union

Siena for­ward Kevin deg­nan shoots against Har­vard on Satur­day at the times union Cen­ter. He fin­ished with a ca­reer-high 16 points.

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