ALBANY – After losing to Niagara twice in the regular season, including watching Victoria Rampado drop 41 on them in the Times Union Center back in January, the Siena Saints were ready to flip the script in the postseason.
Siena capitalized on Niagara's turnovers, held Rampado in check for most the game, and held off a second-half charge from the Purple Eagles for a 71-60 win in the quarterfinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament in Times Union Center.
Niagara had swept the regular season series, winning, 73-68, on Jan. 7 in a game played in the Albany arena, then again in Lewiston eight days later.
But the old basketball adage tells us it's difficult to beat a team three times in a season. And Siena wasn't going down on its home court to the Purple Eagles yet again.
Still, Niagara went down swinging. While Siena went up 20 points early in the third quarter, the Saints had trouble dealing with the Purple Eagles' press. Niagara went on a 10-0 run over 2:42 to cut that lead in half, 44-34, midway through the third quarter.
The Purple Eagles got as close as six when a three-pointer from Maggie McIntyre with 1:34 left cut Siena's lead to 61-55, but the third-seeded Saints made its free throws to maintain their lead and earn their first trip to the MAAC semifinals since 2015.
First quarter turnovers: Niagara took a 10-4 lead but the Saints charged back. A three-pointer from Aaliya Jones sparked a 12-0 run, which was fueled by four turnovers from the Purple Eagles. By the end of the first 10 minutes, Siena had an 18-11 lead, turning six Niagara turnovers into seven points.
Pulling away: Siena created a comfortable 40-23 lead by halftime. The Saints put together a 13-3 run over the final 5:49. The three for Niagara was a long range shot from Maggie McIntyre, which pulled the Purple Eagles within six, 29-23. But the Saints started rolling in their offense and ripped off 10 straight points.
Drought: While Siena was in an offensive flow, Niagara struggled. The Purple Eagles were held without a point for the final 4:52 of the half, a span that included five turnovers. In all, Niagara turned the ball over 13 times in the opening 20 minutes.
End of the road: It was the final game for three seniors on the Niagara roster. Victoria Rampado, the MAAC Player of the Year and all-time leading scorer for the Purple Eagles, had just four points in the first half but finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds for her 15th double-double of the season.
Kaylee Stroemple, an All-MAAC third-team selection had five points and six rebounds, while Jamie Sherburne had 15 points
Up next: Niagara ends its season at 13-18 overall. Siena (17-13) advanced to the semifinals and a meeting with No. 2 Marist at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.