Saturday, January 7, 2012

Eye-Opener: Siena In Upset Win Over Fairfield

Maybe the most eye-opening result of the young conference season was the Siena men's 73-60 defeat of Fairfield Friday night at the Times Union Center in Albany N.Y.

Unexpected? The Saints were three days removed from a 95-59 demolition at the hands of the MAAC's preseason No. 1 pick Iona, and, then, here came preseason No. 2 Fairfield.

Instead Siena's zone defense gave every Stag except junior point guard Desmond Wade (7-of-11 shooting from 3-point range and a career-high 27 points) significant problems. Other than Wade, who mad 9-of-15 shots overall, Fairfield shot 11-of-54, an abysmal 20.4 percent.

Siena, on the other hand, had its best shooting performance in some time, making 26-of-41 shots. The Saints' iron-man six-player lineup all shot at least 50 percent from floor with five players scoring in double figures.

Fairfield is now 3-1 in MAAC play, while a depleted Siena squad, although just 1-3 in the conference, continues to play well (6-8 overall) with wins this season over some fairly strong opponents including Albany, Princeton, Florida Atlantic and, now, Fairfield.

It just shows that in the MAAC, on a given night ... although that assessment might not pertain to an Iona team that looks like it might have a chance to be the first team to run through an 18-game conference schedule unbeaten.

Reaction ...

"The result speaks for itself," said Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson, whose team is now 8-7 overall. "I am immensely disappointed. We probably didn't have our finest effort here. We were humbled tonight. They (Siena) just played a little harder than us."

Siena stymied Fairfield with its balanced play. When the Stags overloaded its defense inside to slow Saints' junior forward O.D. Anosike, the perimeter attack took over.

Anosike went scoreless in the first half, but Siena's perimeter players shot 13-of-21 from the field including 6-of-9 from 3-point range.

"When we adjusted to come out on their shooters, he (Anosike) got going (making 5-of-6 second-half shots to finish with 13 points and 15 rebounds)," added Johnson.

"It was an unbelieavable game for us," admitted Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro. "We could not play any better. This was our first game all year when all six of our guys played played well. We've been resilient all year.

"This team continues to overachieve. But, does any of what we've done surprise me? No ... we've overachieved all year."

All six Siena players were on the court for at least 23 minutes. Two starters, the backcourt of Kyle Downey (19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) and Evan Hymes (10 points, 3 assists) played all 40 minutes. The Saints' starters, as a group, lead the nation in minutes played and the team has the fewest per-game minutes by reserves nationally.

"Our key is that we've got the best chemistry of any team I've been on here," said Downey, a senior. "We all hold each other accountable. It was a good win for us, because we bounced right back after a lopsided loss (to Iona).

"It just shows that we can beat anyone on a given night."

No comments: