DAYTON, Ohio (AP)—Siena strikes again.
Ronald Moore hit a 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left in the second overtime— from the identical spot he made one at the end of the first OT—as the Saints beat eighth-seeded Ohio State 74-72 on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Moore’s two clutch jumpers advanced ninth-seeded Siena (27-7) into Sunday’s second round where the Saints will meet Louisville, the tournament’s top team. The Cardinals moved on with a 74-54 win over No. 16 seed Morehead State.
Ohio State’s Evan Turner missed a leaner from 15 feet that would forced a third OT for the Buckeyes (22-11), who blew an 11-point lead in the second half of regulation.
“I was just praying he missed,” Saints guard Kenny Hasbrouck said. “I was praying the whole game.”
Both of Moore’s shots came by accident. On his first one, the Buckeyes were told by coach Thad Matta to foul Moore before he launched.
On the second, he was supposed to pass to one of his teammates.
He didn’t. They were covered.
So he shot.
“I just wanted to drive the ball and find someone open,” said Moore, who missed his first four 3-pointers. “I felt even though I was 0-fer, I was going to take the shot. It opened up for me.”
Siena came into the tournament with a high profile for a small school after shocking Vanderbilt in the first round last March. The little college from upstate New York returned a veteran squad that was given a solid chance of beating one of the Big Ten’s powers.
And Siena did it again despite playing much more like sinners than Saints.
Siena committed 22 turnovers and made just 6-of-23 3-pointers, but Moore drained his two big shots when it mattered most.
Once Turner’s shot bounced harmlessly into the corner and the final horn sounded, Siena had moved on for a date with the fearsome Cardinals. Coach Fran McCaffery then wrapped his arms in around his point guard and carried him off the floor as the Saints fans, outnumbered by the thousands, chanted “Ron-ald Moore.”
The Buckeyes had everything going their way. They were playing just an hour from home and they had the size, strength and stature on their side.
It didn’t matter to the Saints, champions of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, who stormed from behind in the second half.
Ryan Rossiter scored 16 points with 15 rebounds for Siena, which relied on its tournament experience from last year’s run to pull it through.
The young Buckeyes, who don’t have a senior on their roster, went up 72-71 when Turner, who had 25 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, knifed through the lane for a layup with 17.9 seconds left. But Moore, a rocket with the ball in his hands, calmly lined up from the right wing and buried his second clutch 3.
Turner did all he could, but Ohio State will remember this as a game that got away.
“It shouldn’t have come down to that, though,” Turner said of his last shot. “Sometimes we just made bonehead decisions, turned the ball over and gave up 3s. With all that, I think it was a wonderful game. They were chasing us and they made some big plays.”
The Buckeyes led 41-30 after Turner made a 3 with 14:31 left and OSU had a chance to possibly put the Saints away when sharpshooter Jon Diebler lined up for a 3 from the corner. His shot caromed long and it gave Siena a reprieve it wouldn’t waste.
The Saints reeled off nine straight and finally caught the Buckeyes at 49-all with 2:57 left on Rossiter’s layup.
Siena had to withstand two last-second shots by Ohio State at the end of regulation and the first OT.
With the Buckeyes playing so close to their Columbus campus, Siena’s fans were lost in a sea of red.
As the school’s cheerleaders entered the arena floor, one of them remarked they were not in New York anymore.
“I don’t see any green,” she said.
Siena opened just 4-of-17 from the floor as Ohio State’s matchup zone took away the open looks they were accustomed to while playing against conference foes like Iona, Canisius and Niagara. But the Saints stayed close by outworking the Buckeyes on the glass.
Rossiter grabbed five of Siena’s 14 first-half offensive rebounds, matching Ohio State’s total at both ends. But for all their scrappiness, the Saints were equally sloppy with the ball. They made 12 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, and Hasbrouck, their leading scorer, had just one point and missed all four shots.
Ohio State led by five at halftime, and Matta knew the Saints were far from done.
“They never dropped their heads and they kept coming,” he said. “We’d seen that in them.”