Postgame audio - Coach Mitch Henderson, T.J. Bray & Douglas Davis:
The deep jump shot is both higher risk and higher reward.
Unable to establish much inside in Albany, Princeton had success the first 30 minutes taking a constant barrage of three point jumpers versus the trapping Siena zone.
Then the shots stopped falling.
Six consecutive misses during a five minute stretch midway through the second half coupled with 12 straight points for the Saints reversed what was 43-37 Tiger lead into a six point advantage for the home team.
Having kept double/double machine OD Anosike in check for the majority of the evening, Anosike scored eight of his 12 in the final three minutes as Siena held off a late Princeton charge for the 63-59 win. Kyle Downey’s free throw with two seconds to go secured the result.
As Siena strategically conceded three pointers, choosing to take away the lane and negate Ian Hummer in the process, Douglas Davis and T.J. Bray carried the offense. Davis converted a career best seven threes on his way to 23 points and Bray connected four times leading to a career high 15, of which 12 came in the first half.
However Princeton’s guards could not stay with, slow down or control the exciting 5’8″ freshman Saints point guard Evan Hymes, who had 22 on a series of dynamic drives and 7-8 free throw shooting.
“The key to the game was Evan Hymes. We had no answer for him,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson. “He seemed to do everything for them.”
“He’s quick. He’s lightning fast,” Bray added. “There were times we shied away from the scouting report and that was costly for us.”
The Tigers made 13 of their 31 three point attempts but were only 8-24 inside the arc as Siena outscored Princeton 26-14 in the paint.
“To beat Princeton when they make 13 threes is a pretty monumental task,” Saints head coach Mitch Buonaguro said.
Siena had 27 free throw attempts to the Tigers’ six.
Princeton’s first four shots of the game were all three pointers as Davis was able to consistently find Bray and Bray in turn could locate Davis.
Following Anosike’s basket attacking Patrick Saunders off glass in the post, a confident Bray sized up a shot on the right wing.
Hymes was able to score twice on a pull up jumper and a flip in the lane as Davis came up long on successive attempts. Touches for Ian Hummer inside the arc were nil but Princeton was getting clean looks from three.
“We’ve got to hammer that ball in there because we had to get Ian involved inside,” Henderson assessed.
Hummer got involved inside, heading into the lane with his left and banking a shot home to make it 6-5 Siena.
Davis alone on the left wing was off to the right for three, his third straight miss to open the evening. At the other end Brandon Walters’ lefty hook went up and in.
Trailing by three, Bray went to his right into the lane and pushed a shot up with his right hand. Anosike traveled under the rim and when Bray’s penetration found Davis on the right side Princeton was in front.
Brendan Connolly kept a possession alive, grabbing a rebound off a Saunders miss from outside and passing out to Bray for a 15-10 score.
Siena’s strategy seemed to be leading towards their downfall as the Saints continued to trade two points for three. Hymes drove and was fouled by Connolly sliding over to help, resulting in two free throws. Bray’s drive to the left stopped when he realized Davis was left unguarded on the right side of the arc for the Tigers’ fifth three of the half.
Downey got two of those back and Bray again located Davis, this time firing a line drive triple in out of the left corner to make it 21-14 Tigers.
One more unequal trade by Siena – A Hymes jumper courtesy a swing pass from Owen Wignot for a Bray three on the left side inched the lead up to eight with 8:37 left before intermission.
A brief cool off period from three for Princeton and Siena was right back in it. Inside/out offense for the Saints resulted in their first trey of the game, Wignot connecting. There was a rare Denton Koon miss in close under pressure and Bray’s off target left side jumper after an offensive rebound. Hymes penetrated and made a near hand-off in close to Downey down the baseline. Saunders missed twice outside, first set up by a Bray drive and then again when Hummer found Davis cutting who unselfishly passed on a layup try for the chance of an extra point on the perimeter. Hymes rainbowed a shot from the top of the arc and Siena had scored eight straight to go back in front by one.
Even at 27 with three minutes to go following a free throw by Hymes, Bray could not connect on another three but Hummer stole the offensive rebound and Bray this time found Davis over Anosike for a three point Princeton lead.
A lob to Connolly led him too far and his pass out off the sideline was stolen by Wignot. Hymes the other way was fouled by Davis, his second personal. Both free throws were good.
In a promising pair of possessions, Connoly poked a post feed intended for Anosike to Bray and ran the floor, Hummer feeding him on the left block. As soon as Connolly received the ball he went right up with a right hand hook shot without any hesitation. That would prove the half’s final basket and Princeton held a 32-29 advantage at the break.
Saunders had a chance to double the lead when Bray used a Hummer pick and drove before spotting the senior forward but his three pointer from the left corner with two ticks remaining did not connect.
The Tigers were 12-27 from the floor (44.4%), 7-18 from three point range (38.9%) and 1-2 on free throws (50.0%). Bray and Davis each scored 12 as they combined for seven three point shots in their last 10 tries.
Bray had five assists playing all 20 minutes and were it not for Davis’ slow start and Saunders’ inability to connect when open he would have been well on his way to double figure dimes.
Siena shot 10-28 (35.7%), 2-6 from deep (33.3%) and 7-8 at the line (87.5%). Hymes’ 14 led all scorers.
Davis for three was just long as play resumed and Hymes’ long cross over jumper bounced several times on the rim before dropping in. As the ball was dancing Saunders grabbed his man fighting for the rebound and a foul was called. The bucket was good and possession stayed with Siena. A possible five point play was negated as Downey missed inside.
Players not named Davis, Bray and Hummer only scored five points on Thursday night and two of them came when Mack Darrow screened for Davis and rolled to the basket, taking a bounce pass and recording a half layup / half dunk. The ball was laid in but Darrow also pulled down on the iron with one hand. Your call.
Hummer at the free throw line to Bray outside made it 39-33 Tigers. Up six with the ball Bray tried to fire a mid range jumper in Downey’s face which Downey blocked and deflected out off of Princeton. Connolly broke up a backdoor and Davis was unable to muscle a drive to the rim. The lead stayed two possessions.
Another Hymes drive resulted in two free throws and now it was Princeton trading an imbalance of points. With Saunders ineffective and also possessing three fouls, John Comfort got the call. Comfort was doubled on the wing and Anosike ripped the ball out of his hands, forcing a tie up with Siena getting possession.
Bray to Comfort off the bounce backdoor resulted in a foul on Anosike from behind. This drew a chorus of boooooooooooooooooos at the Times Union Center and Comfort made one of his two chances.
Wignot scored off the left elbow and Comfort’s three try out of the far corner was blocked by Wignot. The ball came around to Davis on the right wing and Davis faked a pass to his right which got his defender to step away from the ball. Now alone, Davis calmly sank his fifth three of the affair. The lead was 43-37 with 12:04 to go.
Saunders picked up his fourth personal holding Anosike on a rebound and Henderson had no choice but to try Darrow, Hummer and Connolly on the floor together.
Rob Poole’s jump stop jumper was followed by Davis missing from outside off a Bray skip pass.
The long rebound resulted in numbers the other way as Hymes went end to end.
Bray’s deep three was off target and pushing the other way Hymes found Poole on the left wing for three and a 44-43 lead for the Saints.
With big not working, Henderson tried the opposite approach. Jimmy Sherburne joined Bray and Davis in the backcourt.
“The way that the zone was working, I think they were willing to give us some shots,” said Henderson. “It just felt like there wasn’t enough balance from our end.”
Hummer went at Anosike with his left off the glass but couldn’t score. Bray missed a deep wing three.
Hymes’ zip pass to Anosike streaking behind Connolly was lovely but Connolly made the right decision to foul the sub-50% shooter from the line. It was the correct call, as Anosike missed a pair.
Hummer went at Anosike again, his jump hook short.
Sherburne bodied on a drive and Downey added a single free throw for a 45-43 count.
Bray’s feed to Hummer was too ambitious and Downey drove for a pair.
Davis used a Connolly screen but could not connect on a free throw jumper.
Curling to the free throw line, Downey took a Hymes pass and connected to conclude a 12-0 run over 4:34.
Even though he hesitated before deciding to shoot it, Hummer hit on the right wing from three and Princeton called time down 49-46.
A Walters jumper was well out of his making range and Davis rebounded on the baseline. Hummer in deep could not get the ball over Walters’ outstretched arms and the ball went to Siena.
Hymes darted for two more but Bray found Davis on the wing to draw Princeton within 51-49.
Wignot’s offensive rebound of a Hymes jumper resulted in Downey’s drive to his left which finally got Anosike alone on the block for a two hand slam.
Saunders was open once more but his three to pull Princeton within one came up short.
Downey drove wildly at Hummer who kept his footing. The ball came back to Downey and his entry to Anosike was deflected into the air by Hummer. Once more the ball directed to Downey and this time he was able to penetrate and leave a pass for Anosike reversing. A rare made Anosike free throw pushed Princeton down by seven.
Hummer drove with just over a minute to play, his forearm pulled down and a layup try flying high enough to touch the shot clock above the backboard. Play did not stop and when Siena was able to control Anosike was cherrypicking at the other end for a dunk. 58-51 Saints. Game over.
Or was it? Like they did in the final minute at Jadwin a year ago, Princeton had one final miracle run to try and pull off. Hummer and Davis sandwiched three point shots around a single Downey free throw to draw the Tigers within three with :04.2 showing. Once Siena was able to inbound Hummer fouled out grabbing Downey.
Downey’s first free throw went in, then out, then in, then out again. If he missed the second, the Tigers would have a chance at overtime.
There would be no overtime. Downey’s second try was all net and shorthanded Siena had the win.
The trio of Bray, Davis and Hummer were 13-25 from three point range - but with Hummer unable to move with ease in the paint and no other scoring alternatives developing, all the Saints had to do was wait.
Wait until Princeton’s shots ceased sinking and Siena’s risk could become their reward.
-Princeton shot 21-55 on the night (38.2%), 13-31 from three (41.9%). The Tigers were 4-6 on free throws (66.7%).
-Siena was one field goal better at 22-55 (40.0%), 3-8 outside the arc (37.5%) and had a decided advantage at the line, going 16-27 (59.3%).
-Anosike (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Downey (15 points, 10 rebounds) both ended up with double/doubles. The Saints grabbed 24.3% of all available offensive rebounds.
-Davis’ 23 tied him with Gabe Lewullis for ninth on the Princeton scoring list with 1,277 points for his career.
-With seven threes, Davis has 229 for his career, moving six treys behind Sean Jackson for second all-time at Princeton. It was the second time Davis has hit seven times behind the arc in a game.
-Bray increased his career high in scoring for the third straight game. His seven assists were a career best.
-Siena played only six players, with Rob Poole the only Saint to come off the bench.
-The home team committed just six turnovers.