The first national post-season tournament game of the season involved two teams that, for the first 23 minutes, looked like they wanted to be anyplace else than Albany, N.Y.'s, Times Union Center for a first round game of the College Basketball Invitational.
The event is the least regarded of the four post-season tournaments for me, but some physical play at the 16:59 mark of the second half seemed to spark the emotional embers for both Siena and its opponent, Stony Brook of the America East Conference.
Siena, at that point, had three players (reserves Evan Hymes, Javion Oguyemi and Maurice White) ejected for leaving the bench to join a slight on-court fracas that occurred behind one basket after Saints' forward Brett Bisping got fouled on a layup.
The incident also resulted in four other players being assessed technical fouls.
At that juncture, Siena trailed by three points. But, the incident seemed to inspire both teams, particularly the Saints. Until then both teams appeared to have been playing in a lackluster manner.
"We wanted to win that game partly because of that, and it fired us up a little bit," Bisping told reporters afterwards.
The victory sends 16-17 Siena to a quarterfinal-round contest of the event, which it will host on Monday against the winner of tonight's first-round meeting between Penn State and Hampton.
Tuesday's game drew just 2,575 spectators to the Times Union Center, which is believed to be the smallest turnout for a Siena game since it last played games in its on-campus Alumni Recreation Center in the 1996-97 season.
After the incident, Siena jumped out to a 44-43 lead on a bucket from center Imoh Silas and never trailed after that. The winners' lead was 10 when junior swingman Rob Poole drained a three-pointer to give the Saints a 53-43 advantage.
Stony Brook, which finishes with a 23-11 record, never got closer than six again.
The Seawolves lost their final two games to teams from New York's Capital Region. They were defeated in their previous contest by UAlbany in the America East championship game.