Siena basketball wins record 16th straight game

They had to sweat out a 3-point attempt by Rider’s Dwight Murray for the win that clanged off the back rim at the buzzer. With that, the Siena men’s basketball team broke the program’s Division I record for consecutive victories.

After blowing most of a 17-point lead in the second half, Siena held on for its 16th straight win, a 74-72 triumph over Rider in Lawrenceville, N.J., on Saturday night.

Siena surpassed the 2009-10 team, which won 15 straight games. The Saints upgraded to Division I in the 1976-77 season. The current streak began with 10 straight wins last season before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Siena also tied the overall program record of 16 straight victories set in 1950. The Saints can take sole possession of that mark next weekend,  when they’re scheduled to play Saint Peter’s on Friday and Saturday. The Peacocks are the last team to beat Siena. The Saints also set a program mark with their eighth straight road win.

“I mean, Siena basketball’s a players’ program, so credit to our guys for being true to who they are and being the student-athletes they are,” Siena coach Carmen Maciariello said in a Zoom conference call. “Yeah, it’s nice, right? It’s nice. Does it really mean anything right now if we don’t continue this journey and get better every single day? I don’t know. But to be in the record books is something. I think we’ll be able to talk about that the rest of our lives. I know, especially for like Jordan (King), a local guy, which is pretty cool. He grew up probably watching Fran’s team that had that record. We’ll take it. It’s an honor. I’m  already past it.”

Siena (6-0 overall, 6-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) earned its past three victories without MAAC Player of the Year Jalen Pickett, who sat out again with a hamstring injury.

King, the sophomore guard from CBA, set a career high in points for the second straight game. After pouring in 21 points against Rider on Friday, he had 22 points on Saturday.

King, a former walk-on, made four 3-pointers and shot 6-for-6 from the foul line. He also had six assists and five turnovers in 35 minutes.

“I just love his heart,” Maciariello said. “I think he’s just a warrior. I think he competes all the time he’s on the court. He continues to get better. He takes timely shots. He’s a calming influence. He helps (freshman guard) Aidan (Carpenter) with the point guard duties. We play him more at the point now … I thought Jordan was pretty tired and we tried to get him some rest.”

King and his teammates weren’t available to the media afterward. Maciariello said he wanted his players to stretch after the back-to-back wins and get on the bus immediately to head home.

They managed to escape after  holding a 48-31 lead on a King 3-pointer with 18:04 to play.

Rider (3-10, 3-7) used runs of 11-0 and 7-0 to get back in the game. The Broncs sliced Siena’s lead to 73-72 on Allen Powell’s  contested 3-pointer from the right corner with 6.5 seconds left. The Broncs then fouled Siena graduate guard Nick Hopkins on purpose, and he missed the first foul shot and made the second for the two-point lead.

Taking the inbounds pass, Murray pushed the ball up the floor and was long with a good look at a pull-up 3-pointer from the right side.

“Excited we won a road win with 18 turnovers,” Maciariello said. “We had some lulls offensively. I thought guys got tired, uncharacteristic plays, but that’s the beauty of having a good team. We were able to grind it out.”

Hopkins scored 16 points, while freshman forward Colin Golson added 14 points, including four key baskets in the second half. It was the second game of his career after clearing COVID-19 protocols.

“Colin’s a competitor,” Maciariello said. “He’s a physical presence for us. He gives us another guy who can play multiple positions. He can spell Manny (Camper), which I think is going to be key.”

Camper, the MAAC rebounding and assists leader, had seven points on 2-for-9 shooting with 13 rebounds and no assists in 33 minutes.

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