With 19 points and 13 rebounds, Brett Bisping was critical to Siena's victory at Iona Saturday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Simone)
A 17-4 run midway through the second half helped Siena overcome a 12-point deficit and gain a much-needed road victory against Iona, moving the Saints within a half-game of second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings. Here are a few takeaways from the afternoon in New Rochelle, spanning both sides:
- Brett Bisping is starting to look like a lock for first team all-MAAC honors.
The redshirt junior's latest double-double, racking up 19 points and 13 rebounds to get it, cemented his status as one of the five best players in the MAAC. On the year, he is averaging nearly 16 points and over nine boards per game, the latter number leading the conference. Even more remarkable about his effort today was his inability to practice this week, which he admitted to flu-like symptoms. "Brett Bisping continues to be an amazing guy to coach," said head coach Jimmy Patsos, who also revealed that New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman; his former college roommate who was in attendance today, told him Bisping was an "unbelievable player."
"I think Brett has led this team with his energy," Patsos elaborated. "What he has done, to not practice at all this week, to not practice yesterday and have two fantastic games, rebound, dirty work, take charges, it rubs off on all of us. Brett Bisping's the reason we won this game."
- Siena did what very few teams in the MAAC have been able to do this year.
Jordan Washington, Iona's explosive forward who causes matchup problems for whomever he faces, was held to just three points while committing seven turnovers and four fouls. When his Manhattan team faced the Gaels two weeks ago, head coach Steve Masiello admitted his strategy to defending Washington was to simply get him in foul trouble. The Saints did that throughout the afternoon, producing a final stat line that head coach Tim Cluess attributed to the flow of the game being counterproductive to Washington's game. "There was no flow at all," said Cluess, "and they were smart. They extended out on us and made us go to him. He can't sit there, and Jordan's averaging 15, 16 points a game. We have to give him a chance. We figured if he was going to get going at all, we have to give him the ball and give him a chance to score a little bit."
- The road to the No. 2 seed in the MAAC Tournament could still go either way.
With Iona still needing to play Monmouth, Siena, and Manhattan all on the road in the next two weeks, the Saints have favorable matchups on paper against Rider and Quinnipiac, plus a game in hand with two weeks left in the regular season. Regardless of where both teams finish, each will be a force to be reckoned with in the MAAC Tournament, which Patsos reaffirmed was not a home court advantage. "It's at a neutral site in Albany, which we happen to play our home games at," Patsos emphatically shot back when a reporter led a postgame question by referencing the tournament would be played on Siena's home floor. "There's a floor that says 'The MAAC,' not 'Siena.' They branded it for the MAAC."