Siena basketball overcomes tougher test to win second match in Italy

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Graduate forward Michael Baer had 11 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, 14 rebounds and five assists on Friday to lead the Siena men’s basketball team to a 69-65 win over Pallacanestro Crema in Game 2 of their Italian tour in the city of Crème.

The Saints improved to 2-0 on their overseas trip with one game to play. They got a much tougher test from Pallacanestro Crema, in Italy’s Serie B side, than they did in an 84-39 blowout against Serie A2’s Stella Azzurra last Saturday in Rome.

“Yeah, definitely a higher level of competition tonight,” Baer said in a sports communication video from Siena. “It’s a good team. A tough competition. But above all, we only had five days off. We only went to the gym once and we did walking tours the whole time. So just coming here and being able to compete and we’re growing as a group so there’s definitely a lot to work on I had fun there I know a lot of guys had fun hot gym and everything. We just want to compete, so we’re happy to come out of here with a win.”

Trailing his team by one, Baer scored on offensive rebounds on consecutive possessions to give Siena the lead for good at 59-56 with 4:16 remaining.

Siena senior Jayce Johnson, playing point guard on that trip, had 15 points, two assists and six turnovers. He shot 8-for-9 from the foul line, including a pair with 7.5 seconds left to freeze the win after Pallacanestro Crema’s Giulio Mascherpa missed a 3-pointer to take the lead.

Graduate center Jackson Stormo added 13 points and six rebounds for the Saints, and sophomore guard Jared Billups had 11 points and five rebounds.

Siena held a 48-33 rebounding advantage, including 29-13 in the second half, and a 16-2 advantage in second-chance points.

“I thought the guys rallied,” Siena coach Carmen Maciariello said in the video. “I think we had lost about eight points, we came back, then they had a run. We did it on the glass. … We want to be able to impose our will on the glass. And then we had four guys in double digits again. So it wasn’t pretty. Guys are still learning the nuances. … I thought the guys were showing great determination.

Maciariello mentioned freshman forward Killian Gribben couldn’t finish the game after being hit in the head. Second-year point guard Javian McCollum (dental work) did not play for the second straight game and senior forward Jordan Kellier, who is Jamaican, did not make the trip due to a visa issue. First-year guard Taihland Owens also didn’t travel because he’s rehabilitating his knee.

Siena will play their last game at noon on Saturday at UCC Assigeco Piacenza before returning home.

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