ALBANY, NY – Siena Basketball shot 12-13 from the free throw line in the last two minutes to hold off hard charging Robert Morris 76-74 at the Times Union Center. The teams combined for 33 points over the final 1:52 in a frenetic finish.
Siena (2-5) led 62-55 heading into the final wild stretch and the Saints did their part, hitting clutch free throw after clutch free throw. But Robert Morris (4-4) wouldn’t go quietly as the Colonials connected on 6-7 from the field, including 4-5 from three. However, Robert Morris would get no closer than the final margin as Siena sealed the win with its huge foul shots. The Saints, which entered play shooting just 64.6% from the free throw line this season, connected on 22-27 (81.5%) from the charity stripe overall for the game.
Junior guard Nico Clareth led four players in double figures with 20 points in 24 minutes off the bench for Siena which shot 48% from the field. Sophomore guard Ahsante Shivers added 16 points for the Saints which captured the first meeting between the former ECAC Metro rivals in 33 years.
Dachon Burke scored 11 of his game-high 26 points in the final 76 seconds for Robert Morris (4-4) which had its four-game winning streak halted. Jon Williams added 12 of his 15 points in the second half for the Colonials who were playing their eighth and final of eight consecutive road games to open their season in which they’ve traveled over 7,000 miles round trip and played in all four time zones.
Siena led for more than 35 minutes and shot 50% from the field in the first half while holding Robert Morris to just 31.4% including only 1-7 from three to take a 34-28 lead at the break. The Saints pushed their advantage to as much as a season-high 16-point lead at 48-32 with 14:11 remaining.
However the Colonials answered back with four consecutive three-point plays to dwindle the deficit to four. But Clareth responded with back-to-back threes on consecutive possessions to push the lead back to 10 at 54-44 with 9:50 to go.
Freshmen Prince Oduro and Roman Penn chipped in with 14 points apiece to round out Siena’s double digit scorers. Oduro added seven rebounds, and Penn narrowly missed a double-double as he grabbed a season-best nine rebounds while also dishing out four assists.
Malik Petteway tallied a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for Robert Morris which shot an even 50% from the field in the second half including 60% (9-15) from long distance.
Following its first of two season long three-game homestands, the Saints will now head on the road for five of their next seven games to close out December. Siena returns to action Wednesday when they travel to perennial national power Louisville for a nationally televised contest on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. The Cardinals are ranked 17th in both the latest AP and USA Today Top-25 polls.