Monday, January 7, 2013

WNY Odyssey: Emotions Contrast Niagara-Siena

Last stop on the Western New York Hoop Junkie's Odyssey ...

Sunday, 2 p.m., Siena women at Niagara at the Taps Gallagher Center.

Two sides to every occurrence, one good and one bad.

We'll start with the "good news" first ...

Niagara entered the game on a three-game losing streak, including a home court setback two days earlier to Iona.

Against the Saints, the Purple Eagles fell behind 13-0 and, by then, their coach Kendra Faustin had not only called a time-out slightly over a minute into the contest but pulled starting all-conference level point guard Kayla Stroman.

"Not everyone was ready to play ... our focus wasn't there," said Faustin. "And, when that's our emphasis ... I needed to prove a point there."

Point proven.

Niagara quickly got back into it, yet still trailed, 56-48, with 5:32 remaining.

And, then, the other side ... Siena didn't score another field goal in the contest, not in regulation or five minutes of overtime, a stretch of 10:32 on the game clock.

Niagara tied it in regulation when Stroman made a free throw with nine seconds left (and, Siena threw a pass out of bounds as time ran out).

And, then, the Purple Eagles outscored the Saints 10-2 in overtime to take a 70-62 victory.

More "bad news" for the Saints: It was their third straight devastating, demoralizing setback.

It lost its final non-conference game of the season, 61-60, at Sacred heart after holding a 58-52 lead with 1:30 left to play. In that one Siena made just two-of-six free throws down the stretch after making 22-of-23 prior to that.

And, then, in its first MAAC game, Friday at Canisius, the Saints lost another late-game six-point advantage (58-52) with 3:31 remaining. Again, missed free throws late were an issue, with the Saints missing their last three after making 20-of-25 prior to the closing seconds.

It enabled Canisius to pull away from a tie game with three seconds left when the Golden Griffins in-bounded the ball to freshman point guard Tiahana Mills, who took three dribbles to mid court and swished home the game-winner at the buzzer.

The shot became No. 1 on ESPN's Top 10 Highlight videos for the day, as much for Canisius radio play-by-play man Mike Scott's very enthusiastic call (which included a vague pro wrestling reference which your Hoopscribe doesn't claim to understand) as for the play.

Observations ...

- Some terrific individual performances from both teams. For Niagara, junior forward Shy Britton came off the bench to score 20 points (9-of-16 shooting) and grab seven rebounds in 27 minutes.

"Shy is capable of playing that way, but she's more content not to force the issue," said Faustin. "We usually have to keep on her, even in practice, to play like that.

Britton, though, took over late, getting six of her team's 10 points in the overtime session.

For Siena, junior forward Clara Sole Anglada had a career 26-point, 10-rebound performance.

But, she fouled out with nine seconds left in regulation, and her teammate, Tehresa Coles, fouled out with 1:42 left in regulation.

Those two are, arguably, two of Siena's top three players and teams perform best when their best players are on the court.

Coles only played 23 of the game's 45 minutes and Sole Anglada only 32 of 45. The difference, when those two were forced to the bench with foul trouble and, eventually, after picking up their respective fifth fouls was obvious.

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