By Kevin Sweeney
It was the worst collegiate basketball game I have ever watched.
Siena took down Saint Peter’s in triple overtime yesterday by a final score of 59-57. The game was tied at 40 at the end of regulation, tied at 45 after one OT, 50-all at the end of the second. The fact that a team gets to walk away with a win on their resume from that game almost seems unfair.
With Siena losing star guard Nico Clareth to a midseason transfer and without their 2 best off-ball scorers in Jordan Horn and Khalil Richard due to injuries, it was always going to be a struggle for the Saints to put the ball in the basket. To combine that with playing Saint Peter’s, a team that under John Dunne is known for grinding the tempo of games (347th in possessions per game this season) to a halt, was a recipe for a grind-it-out affair.
We knew it would be ugly.
We didn’t know it was possible to be that ugly.
The first half concluded with Saint Peter’s leading 24-16, as they roared out to a nice lead by shooting a blistering 39% from the field and 3-9 from 3. Meanwhile, Siena had double the number of turnovers than made field goals (10-5) and didn’t have a single player make more than 1 field goal in the half.
At that point, this was bigger than 1 game: many Saints fans began to sarcastically root for the Siena to beat the record for their lowest-scoring D1 game of 39. Whatever Jimmy Patsos said in the locker room must have worked, as Siena’s offense churned up to another level in the second. Saint Peter’s committed 7 fouls in the first 4 minutes of the second half, putting Siena in the bonus for the rest of the game. But the Saints went just 19-33 from the stripe in the second half and overtimes, including putrid showings from big man Prince Oduro (2-8) and wing Thomas Huerter (2-7). At one point, the teams combined to miss 6 straight free throws in the span of 3 seconds of game action. Take a look at this brutality:
There’s a very real argument to be made for shutting a game down immediately when something like this happens.
Yet somehow in such an ugly affair, the game just found a way to be entertaining in its unpredictability. Whether it was the only 1 field goal made in the final 5:50 of regulation, the teams trading 5-0 runs to keep the score tied in the first overtime, a jump ball to end the second OT period, Prince Oduro traveling as soon as he caught a defensive rebound for Siena, or 2 consecutive shot clock violations by the Saints in the 3rd OT, the game was simply something to behold.
In the end though, a big bucket by sophomore wing Ahsante Shivers (14 points, 10 rebounds) gave Siena the lead late, and they held on at the buzzer to claim one of the strangest wins in CBB history.
Of course, the always-quotable Siena Head Coach Jimmy Patsos had plenty to say postgame, saying “I was glad we went three overtimes. Otherwise, we weren’t going to score 40 points, and I didn’t want that score flashing around the country,” per Mark Singelais of the Times Union.
And if you think watching that game took a toll on the fans, look at what it did to Patsos:
That man is drenched.
To be honest, I’m not sure how to end this. After the watching that game, I sat around for about 15 minutes processing what I had just witnessed. The lowest-scoring 3OT game (by a wide margin of 21 points) since 2002, per Ken Pomeroy. The game didn’t cover the over even though they played 15 extra minutes! But it was more than that, it was an absolute mess of a basketball game. In fact, it was such a mess that my dorm room lost power. No one else’s did. Just mine. I’m convinced that this is not a coincidence.
Have a great day, and shield your eyes on February 25 when these teams match up again.