Dec. 22, 2011
"Just a terrific win," head coach Mitch Buonaguro said. "We really competed and paid attention to detail. I thought we practiced really well leading up to the game, and we carried that over to tonight."
The Saints used a game-changing 12-0 run midway through the second half to turn a six-point deficit into a 49-43 lead with 6:14 to play. Princeton got no closer than two the rest of the way.
Siena missed some free throws down the stretch to make things interesting, but Downey made the back end of a two-shot foul with two seconds left, preventing Princeton from having a chance to tie the game at the buzzer for a second straight year.
The Tigers beat Siena in overtime at home last season, overcoming a late deficit with three 3-pointers in the final 37 seconds, including a buzzer-beater at the end of regulation. Princeton had won four of five games entering Thursday's contest, while Siena had lost seven of its last eight.
The Saints trailed 32-29 at the half, but it would have been much worse without Hymes who had 14 of his 22 points.
"I thought Hymes was the difference in the game," Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said. "We had no answer for him."
Buoanguro agreed: "He just ran by them. And that's a good team. Transition, half court, it didn't matter."
Douglas Davis kept the Tigers close, scoring a game-high 23 points, including seven 3-pointers. Princeton lived and died by the three, shooting 13-31 from distance and just 8-24 from inside the arc.
Siena was much more aggressive on offense, and the result was a 27-6 disparity in free throw attempts. While Hymes was the story early, Downey and Anosike shook off slow starts to take over the game late. Anosike started just 2-13 from the field, but made his last three field goals, including two dunks. Downey started just 2-10, but made two of his last three field goals, and four free throws in the final 22 seconds.
Siena was playing its first game after Davonte Beard transferred, but the Saints made up for a depleted roster with smart basketball, beating Princeton at its own game. Siena turned the ball over just six times, its fewest since coughing it up just three times against Manhattan on Feb. 22, 2007.
The Saints have a brief break for the Christmas holiday, before heading to tropical Boca Raton to face Sun Belt East Division favorite Florida Atlantic on Dec. 28.