Friday, March 2, 2012

Despite Offensive Woes, Siena Advances vs. Jaspers

As the cliche goes at post-season tournament time, it's all about surviving and advancing.

And, that's all that matters to the Siena women's basketball team right now as it advances to the MAAC's semifinal round after a 34-33 victory over Manhattan Friday somehow going scoreless over the game's final 8:40 and without a field goal for the final 13:36 and, somehow, winning. And, advancing.

The game becomes the lowest-scoring contest in the history of the women's event, two points fewer than Siena's first-round victory a year ago, a 36-33 decision over Fairfield.

"We know their (Manhattan's) 1-3-1 zone defense is difficult to beat, so we tried to talk a lot about our own defense instead of concentrating on our own offense," said Siena coach Gina Castelli.

The Saints struggled on the offensive end the entire game, making just 25 percent of their shots (12-of-48), but it was just enough to grab a 13-point lead, 34-31, after Maja Gerlyng's two free throws with 8:40 remaining.

After that Siena went their last 14 possessions of the game without a point, while Manhattan, even worse offensively for most of the game, suddenly began scoring some points.

When Schyanne Halfkenny connected on a three-pointer with 1:46 remaining completing a personal seven-point surge, the Jaspers had pulled within 34-33, but could only get one more shot after that.

The Jaspers still had a final possession with 18 seconds remaining that resulted in Maggie Blair's 17-foot jumper that bounced harmlessly off the rim with eight seconds left. In a loose-ball rebound scramble on the floor, Siena's Tehresa Coles came out with possession and dribbled out the final five seconds to secure the victory.

Sophomore forward Clara Sole Anglada led the winners with 11 points, while junior post player Lily Grenci aded six points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

"I couldn't be prouder of our girls," said Saints' coach Gina Castelli, whose team has won eight of its last 12 games. "They just held tough.

"I really can't say enough about the intensity of our players, particularly on that scramble at the end when bodies were on the floor and Tehresa came out with the loose ball rebound."

Manhattan falls to 16-15 overall.

"It's a disappointing loss because it happened in the MAAC tournament and we had high expectations that this was the year we'd be able to do something," said Jaspers coach John Olenowski.

Manhattan, though, appears to still have a chance to do something this season. Olenowski said that his program has been invited to play in the Wormen's Basketball Invitational, a national post-season event for selected women's programs that don't advance to the NCAA event.

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