Sunday, February 14, 2010

Siena Bounces Back Strong Vs. Canisius

Your blogger attended Siena's game at Canisius Sunday afternoon, the trip scheduled, in part, to possibly witness the Saints' 16th consecutive victory in conference play, which would have matched the best start by a league team in the MAAC's 29-year history.

The opportunity for tht was lost on Friday night when Niagara handed Siena its first conference loss, an 87-74 decision.

And, that was met with some resignation at Canisius, where a number of those around the program admitted they hoped Siena would win at Niagara but, maybe, come to the Golden Griffins' Koessler Athletic Center a little emotionally drained.

Instead, the Saints wanted to make a strong rebound after their first conference loss, and Canisius could put up little more than token resistence after creating a 26-26 tie with 4:50 left in the first half.

Siena scored the last 10 points of the half, had a 12-point lead less than two minutes after the intermission and Canisius only made one very minor surge, pulling to within seven midway through the second half.

Then, a 15-4 run had Siena back on top 66-48 with about four minutes remaining.

And, it was only a career shooting effort by reserve Canisius guard Bobby Bevilacqua (17 points, including four second-half 3-pointers) that kept things as close as they were.

History, though, should have told us what this game was going to be like. Siena has now won the past 10 meetings between the teams, its longest run of success against any MAAC opponent.

The average margin of the previous nine Siena victories? Seventeen points, the same margin as Sunday's final score.

Canisius played without one of its better front-court performers, 6-foot-7 junior Greg Logins, who strained a chest muscle in his team's Friday victory over Marist.

Siena took advantage by pounding the ball inside for much of the contest, scoring 54 of its points in the paint.

Its inside pair of senior forward Alex Franklin and junior center Ryan Rossiter turned in dominant performances. Franklin, who looks to be emerging in the conference's Player of the Year consideration, had 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Rossiter had 15 points and 17 rebounds.

"We knew that would be one of our advantages so we just tried to take advantage of that and our teammates were looking for us down low," Franklin said.

Siena is now 15-1 in MAAC play and 22-5 overall.

Canisius fell to 7-9 and 13-15.

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