Thursday, March 6, 2014

Siena Women Find Shooting Touch For Win

No one would blame Siena's senior guard Kanika Cummings if, when asked about her favorite court, she would claim the confines of the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass., as her preferred hardwood.

Cummings showed why yet again Thursday, calmly sinking a three-pointer mere seconds after reporting into her first-round MAAC tounament contest, and, then, finishing with a 5-of-7 shooting performance (4-for-6 from beyond the bonus stripe).

And, Cummings wasn't the only Saint to find the facility to her liking. As a team the Saints shot 12-of-27 from long range, including three late-game misses when the outcome was long decided, in earning a lopsided 87-66 victory over Manhattan.

The outcome sends the Saints to tonight's 7 p.m. quarterfinal round game against No. 2 seed and regular-season co-champion Marist.

Good shooting in the building is nothing new for Cummings, who now averages 9.8 points per game in five contests here during league tournament play, far above her career scoring average of 5.1 points per game entering Thursday's contest.

But good shooting of any kind is new territory for the Saints, who entered Thursday's game making just 34.8 percent of its shots from the floor. Only 11 teams of 343 on the Division I level have worst shooting percentages on the season.

On Thursday, though, Siena blistered the nets for 54.5 percent shooting in the first half to take a 17-point advantage and continued to pull away after the intermission. For the game, Siena made 46.7 percent of its shots including 44.4 percent from international waters.

It matched the Saints' single-game high production since a 91-point effort in the semifinal round of the 2001-02 MAAC tournament.

And, Cummings had company when it came to long-range production Thursday. Junior foward Kelsey Booth was 5-of-9 from three-point territory and junior guard Tehresa Coles was 2-3.

"I don't know how this happened, but if I knew we'd have been doing it all year," said Siena coach Ali Jaques, whose team finished 3-17 in regular-season MAAC play.

Manhattan coach John Olenowski admitted he never expected Siena to be so proficient from the outside.

"Yes, this was a surprise," he said. "They came in averaging just 27 percent on their three-pointers. But, they moved the ball around sell today, got open looks and we were slow to contest their shots."

Manhattan's offense couldn't match the Saints, although the Jaspers' junior guard Nicole Isaacs scored a game-high 20 points, including 6-of-13 from beyond the three-point stripe.

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