Posted at: 02/23/2014 8:28 PM
By: Siena Athletics & WNYT Sports
Siena scored the final nine points, breaking free from a 60-60 tie to claim a critical 69-60 win at Rider Sunday in Lawrenceville. Ryan Oliver delivered the game-winner from the left baseline with 1:29 left and the Saints made 7-8 free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
Siena moves into a fifth place tie with Rider in the conference standings and the Saints own the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series.
Siena trailed 28-24 at the half, but then freshman Lavon Long took over. Long, relegated to the bench with two early fouls in the first half, scored all of his game-high 16 points after intermission and simply dominated the action down low. He scored Siena's first four points out of the lockerroom, and then found Marquis Wright in transition to knot the game at 30-30.
There were nine ties and 18 lead changes, but after Maurice White scored to put the Saints up 44-43 with 11:39 left, the Saints never trailed again.
Siena built a 55-49 lead on Long's layup with 6:26 left, but Rider scored the next five points to get within one. Jimmie Taylor scored four straight for Rider to to tie the game at 60-60 with 2:04 left, but the Broncs didn't score again.
Siena ran down the clock on its next possession, and Oliver pump-faked from the left wing before driving left and pulling up from 10-feet on the baseline. The game-winner was one of just two shots the sophomore took all day.
Rider then missed three straight layups before settling for long three-pointers on its final three trips.
The Saints went seven minutes without scoring in the first half, but stayed in the game with their defense. Rider's leading scorer Anthony Myles finished with just five points on 1-12 shooting and the Broncs shot just 4-22 from distance after entering the game as the top three-point shooting team in the conference.
Siena was given just a 2.3% chance at wrapping up the 5 seed entering the weekend after one website ran 10,000 different possibilities through a computer. Now, thanks to their two biggest wins of the season in a 48-hour span, the Saints would lock up the First Round bye in the MAAC Tournament with victories in their final two games.