Friday, March 8, 2013

Cummings Heats Up To Lift Siena Women Over Stags

Siena's junior guard Kanika Cummings said she had never heard of Vinny "The Microwave" Johnson before some tournament observers started using that nickname for her at last season's MAAC women's tournament.

A year ago, as a lightly used reserve, Cummins shot 6-for-13, and 4-of-7 from three-point range, in two Siena tournament games played at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.

Cummings might want to learn a little more about the former Detroit Pistons' standout with a proclivity for coming off the bench and heating up quickly, like a microwave, because the Saints' player is doing her best imitation again this season.

Cummings went 5-for-11 in the Saints' 52-48 quarterfinal-round upset victory over Fairfield Friday, heating up when Siena needed her the most to help send the Saints to Saturday's 9:30 a.m. semifinal-round contest against Canisius.

Cummings, a 5-foot-8 guard, had eight of her 12 points in the game's final 12 minutes. Her last five points came after Fairfield pulled to within 46-43 at the 4:28 mark.

Cummings then made a nice one-on-one move to convert a 10-footer to give the winners a five-point edge and followed that with a three-pointer from the corner two possessions later to pus Siena's lead to 51-43 with 3:00 remaining.

Siena only scored one more point in the contest, but it didn't any more thanks to the late-game performance by Cummings, who came into this event averaging 4.7 points per outing.

"Those two shots by Cummings were just huge,' said Fairfield coach Joe Frager. "She played a fantastic game for them. Her game has evolved from a year ago when you could play off her to stop her on the drive. Now she makes that perimeter shot and you can't play off her any more.'

"All I was thinking (on her two late-game shots) was don't miss," said Cummings. "All our coaches kept telling me to be aggressive. I felt confident. And, I love this gym. Even in pregame warm ups I felt good ... it was like `I love this gym, I love these hoops.' "

The victory lifts the Saints' record to 13-17 overall, while Fairfield fell to 17-13.

Senior forward Lily Grenci led Siena with 17 points, but a sagging Stags' defense in the second half held Grenci to just two points after the intermission.

It meant other Saints had to produce, and Cummings heated up just in time.

Fairfield had an opportunity to tie it when it had a possession with the score 51-48 with 25 seconds remaining, but failed to get off a shot before turning it over with 4.7 seconds left.

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