By Kevin Sweeney
Javion Ogunyemi wouldn’t let his Siena career end. Not tonight, at least.
As the Saints faced adversity in the second half with Fairfield charging hard and PG Marquis Wright on the bench with 4 fouls, Ogunyemi stepped up big and led his team to a 78-66 win and a berth in the MAAC semifinals. Ogunyemi had 24 points and 9 rebounds in the victory.
Playing in front of their home crowd, Siena came out firing, using a 16-0 run early on to take an 18-6 lead. The game could have gotten hand for Fairfield at that point, but the Stags hung around with first team All-MAAC performer Tyler Nelson leading the charge. Despite the Stags playing better basketball, Siena went into the half with a 38-27 lead and feeling pretty good about their first half performance.
Coming out of halftime, Fairfield came out feisty and got back into the game. Things really turned when Wright was called for a personal foul and subsequent technical for arguing, sending him to the bench with 4 fouls. The Stags drew as close as 5 as the Saints offense was out of sync, and the Siena faithful was seemingly getting tense.
But with the shot clock winding down, Ogunyemi, who had made just 4 threes all season, drained a triple from the left wing, to give the Saints some breathing room. That three started a 10-0 run that included 8 points from Ogunyemi to give Siena a 62-47 lead with 6:53 to go.
The Stags continued to fight down the stretch, but Ogunyemi and the Saints seemed to have the answer every time to keep Fairfield at bay.
Fairfield concludes their season with a 16-14 record. Nelson led the way with 25 points, while Matija Milin added 14 for the Stags.
The 4 senior starters for Siena (16-16) all had solid games. Lavon Long had 17 points and guarded Nelson for much of the night. Brett Bisping posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Wright had 12 points. The Saints advance to play Monmouth tomorrow at 4:30pm, a very quick turnaround especially considering Siena is not a deep team.
Star sophomore Nico Clareth did not play tonight for Siena due to an ankle injury. His status for tomorrow’s game is unknown.