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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, February 4, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Times Union Center (15,299) -- Albany, New York. Television: TWCS, ESPN3.com. Home Record: Fairfield 4-3, Siena 3-7. Away Record: Fairfield 6-7, Siena 2-8. Neutral Record: Fairfield 3-0, Siena 1-1. Conference Record: Fairfield 5-6, Siena 4-7. Series Record: Siena leads, 31-26.
GAME NOTES: The Siena Saints try for their first three-game winning streak of the season, as they play host to the Fairfield Stags at the Times Union Center in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action on Monday night.
Fairfield experienced a prolonged stretch of futility of five straight losses from Jan. 5-21, but since then it has responded with three consecutive wins, including a 69-59 triumph over Rider on Friday night to improve to 5-6 in the MAAC. While they are under .500 in league play, the Stags are still a respectable 13-10 on the season.
Siena's season appeared to be unsalvageable when it was in the midst of a stretch of 14 losses in 16 games, which included a lengthy 11-game losing streak. The Saints seem to have turned the corner of late with back-to-back wins over Marist (79-75) and Manhattan (66-63), and while they are just 6-16 overall, they are climbing up the MMAC ladder by staking claim to a 4-7 league ledger.
Siena leads the all-time series with Fairfield by a 31-26 margin. Even though the Saints have won seven of the last 11, the Stags have claimed three of the last four.
Fairfield was actually outshot from the field in its latest matchup against Rider, .487 to .449, but it was still able to cruise to the double-digit victory by putting forth an outstanding 22-of-25 showing at the foul line and by winning the turnover battle by a 17-11 margin. Maurice Barrow had a career night, as he shot 8-of-13 from the field for 25 points while also grabbing 10 rebounds, all in a reserve role. Derek Needham was also stellar in the triumph with 15 points. Leading the way for the Stags on the season is Needham, who sneaks into the MAAC's top-10 in scoring (14.4 ppg) by putting in plenty of work from beyond the arc (52-of-157). Barrow adds 9.2 ppg to the mix, and Desmond Wade nets just 7.3 ppg but hands out 3.9 apg. As a team, Fairfield typically struggles in scoring (63.7 ppg), but it makes up for it with the conference's top-ranked defensive effort (61.2 ppg).
Siena built a lead as big as 13 points with just over eight minutes to play on Friday night, and even though Manhattan cut that advantage to a single possession in the final minute, the Saints were able to hold on for the win. The 27-of-31 night at the foul line really saved them on the night, as they made good on less than 39 percent of their field goal attempts. Rakeem Brookins scored 18 points, while Rob Poole logged a double-double consisting of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Trenity Burdine (14 points, nine boards) narrowly missed a double-double of his own, and Evan Hymes rounded out a balanced effort with 11 points and six assists. Siena scores a lowly 59.7 ppg, but while it was plagued by injuries and suspensions earlier in the season, it has gotten back to full strength in recent weeks. With O.D. Anosike (12.7 ppg), Poole (12.7 ppg), Brookins (12.1 ppg) and Hymes (12.0 ppg), the Saints are one of just four Division I schools with four players averaging in double figures, joining elite company with NC State, Syracuse and Michigan. Anosike is also the nation's leading rebounder at 11.7 caroms per contest.
After significant struggles, Siena appears to be ready to make a run down the stretch and make some noise in the MAAC. Fairfield's defensive pressure should slow down the Saints' potent scorers, but it won't be enough to pull off the road victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Siena 66, Fairfield 63
02/04 10:32:10 ET