Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Peacocks flip script, sweep Siena

Marvin Dominique scored 18 of his 26 points in second half as Saint Peter's defeated Siena for season sweep of Saints and third consecutive win against MAAC Tournament hosts. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

It was, as John Dunne put it, a tale of two halves.

The first 20 minutes featured a defensive clinic, with each team trying to feel their way through an opening stanza that ended with a score of 26-17. After the intermission, the two stars on the home roster took control, with their offense nearly tripling their productivity.

Behind 26 points from Marvin Dominique, Saint Peter's (12-13, 6-8 MAAC) overcame a 6-for-28 start from the field to explode for 48 points over the final 20 minutes en route to a 65-57 victory over Siena (9-14, 6-8) at the Yanitelli Center, good enough for the Peacocks to sweep the visiting Saints and earn their third straight victory against the team picked to finish second in the preseason MAAC poll.

"I had a little bit of an advantage on them," said Dominique; who scored 18 of his 26 points after the intermission, of the height mismatch in his favor, also capitalizing on his edge in experience over Siena's sophomore forward duo of Javion Ogunyemi and Lavon Long, who were called for a combined nine fouls trying to guard the Fordham expatriate. "I tried to go as hard as I could and just finish over them."

Following a first half where Murphy's Law was personified within the Peacocks roster, finishing may not have been the first thing on their minds coming out of the locker room just minutes removed from posting a paltry 0.61 points per possession. An 11-3 run over the first four minutes of the second half brought Saint Peter's from down nine to just one, and after Siena got their lead back up to five, the Peacocks responded with a 22-7 spurt that not only gave them the advantage for good, but also put them up double digits, as Dominique's emphatic one-handed slam elevated Saint Peter's to a 55-45 cushion. The Saints would show flashes of a rally in the waning minutes, but were repelled by a Peacocks basket on the other end on almost every occasion.

Desi Washington scored all 13 of his points after halftime, and added seven rebounds for good measure to support Dominique as Saint Peter's shot 58 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes, and 17-for-20 at the free throw line, to put the game away. Marquis Wright led Siena with 14 points in the losing effort, while Ogunyemi contributed 13 of his own.

"It's one of those things where it's a work in progress," Siena coach Jimmy Patsos candidly assessed after the loss. "We have to get ready for Albany, (home of the MAAC Tournament) you know? Saint Peter's is good at home and I'm really proud of the way we played early, but you've got to win the game, and we didn't. In the second half, I didn't see the energy there, and 48 points is too many to give up."

Siena now travels to Marist Thursday night for what will be their third of four games in nine days, while Saint Peter's begins their trip to western New York looking to avenge an early-season loss to Niagara in a game that could vault the Peacocks closer to the top five of the MAAC standings should they emerge victorious.

"We just amped up our energy," Dunne recounted of his team's latest effort. "We had a team-first, share the ball mentality in the second half. Our commitment to playing the bench and getting these guys subs, and them having the willingness to come out and feel good about coming out so other guys could play and then come back in with energy, I thought really helped, because I thought our energy down the stretch was key."

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