ALBANY, N.Y.- To say that things didn't look good from a depth standpoint heading into tonight's MAAC Tournament semifinal for Rider would be an understatement. Both Ryan Thompson and Justin Robinson missed the game due to injury, but Jason Thompson showed the Times Union Center crowd why he's Player of the Year and Matt Griffin and Kamron Warner stepped up to get the Broncs a 76-71 victory over Marist.
Thompson put up 32 points and 18 rebounds for the regular season conference co-champions, and the freshman Griffin (8 points and 4 assists) and senior Warner (10 points) took full advantage of their expanded roles. Harris Mansell shook off an ankle injury suffered last night to score 16, including six straight from the foul line in the game's final thirty-five seconds.
The Red Foxes were led in scoring by freshman Jay Gavin, who posted twenty-one. Ryan Schneider, barely used in Friday's quarterfinal win over Niagara, scored all eighteen of his points in the first half as Marist went into the break ahead 39-32.
Rider ran off a 9-0 run to start the final stanza, capped by a Griffin three-pointer. Averaging around twelve minutes per game for the season, Griffin played thirty-two minutes in the semifinal. As for his objective heading into the game, Griffin aimed to "be aggressive, play within myself and lead the team". He did just that for Tommy Dempsey's squad, but the star of this one was Thompson, who was virtually unstoppable at times.
During one stretch late in the second half, Thompson scored ten straight Rider points, the last three coming on a three-point play with 1:57 remaining to put Rider ahead 70-64. From there it was all about the junior Mansell, who finished off the win from the foul line. Marist, who attempted forty-one three pointers on the night, shot 28% from the field in the second half and finishes their season with a record of 18-14.
Siena 65, Loyola (MD) 63
With the score standing 38-21 Loyola with 3:29 to go in the first half, it looked as if the Siena Saints were going to have to wait a couple more years to win the MAAC Tournament on their floor for the first time since 2002. But a team that ranked in the bottom half of most of the conference's defensive categories throughout the season put together its best defensive effort of the season to catch the Greyhounds at the end for a 65-63 win.
Forward Alex Franklin, who led the Saints with 22 points, made up for two missed free throws by blocking a shot that would have tied the game with three seconds remaining. Loyola's tip attempt to tie missed, and the Saints move on to Monday night's final. Kenny Hasbrouck scored all seventeen of his points in the second half, including Siena's first seven of the half. Marquis Sullivan scored fourteen to lead the Greyhounds (19-14), but the story was the Saint pressure that eventually negated Loyola's advantage on the boards.
"We scrambled a lot on defense. As we got more pressure on them we felt (that) we could come back," said Siena forward Edwin Ubiles. And to be frank, as Siena made their run you had the feeling that the Saints were in control even though it took them a while to get the game back within two possessions. Once they did, all it took to get the win was a Josh Duell layup on a good pass from Hasbrouck.
Siena outscored the Greyhounds 18-7 in points off turnovers, and 36-22 in the
paint. Loyola shot 33% from the field in the second half.
MAAC Tournament Final
Rider vs. Siena
7PM EST, ESPN2