Commentary

Saints march to Moore's tune

Siena topples Ohio State in double overtime to advance to second round

Updated: March 21, 2009, 10:04 AM ET
By Brian Bennett | ESPN.com

DAYTON, Ohio -- Ronald Moore limped back to the Siena locker room after finishing his time at the news conference podium.

[+] EnlargeRonald Moore
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireRonald Moore's 3 sent Siena to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year.
His legs were cramping up on him as they had during the last of his 46 minutes at point guard against Ohio State. A trainer advised Moore to go lay in a bath of ice. But when Moore walked in the locker room door, a ring of TV cameras were there waiting for him.

Hey, if you're going to play NCAA tournament hero, you've got to get your face time. And Moore will be seeing his clutch shots from Friday night and early Saturday morning for the rest of his life.

He hit a 3-pointer that sent the first-round game into double overtime, then followed that up with the game winner with 3.9 seconds left in the second extra period.

"There are no words that can really explain it," Moore said. "To think about it now, it's kind of hard to believe."

What made it harder to believe was that Moore is more of a passer than a scorer, and on neither shot was he supposed to be the one pulling the trigger. He had missed his first four 3-pointers of the game before making the two most important ones of his life.

Ohio State's P.J. Hill had put the Buckeyes up 65-62 on a pair of free throws with 9.1 seconds left. Moore took the inbounds pass and dribbled past half court. The play designed by coach Fran McCaffery called for Kenny Hasbrouck to come off a screen, get the pass from Moore and take the final shot. But Ohio State defended it perfectly, and Hill gave Moore plenty of space. So he just backed up a step and drilled the 3 himself.

"I definitely was surprised to be that open," Moore said. "But I hadn't hardly hit anything all night, so I see why I was open. It helped me get time to get my feet set and get a good shot."

Why didn't the Buckeyes foul to prevent a 3-point attempt? That's what Thad Matta would like to know.

"I don't know honestly what happened," the Ohio State coach said. "We were going to attempt to foul, and it kind of worked out because he kept dribbling around. I was waiting for it, but it never happened."

The winning shot came on a scramble as the ball rotated Moore's way. The ball went through the net with 3.9 seconds left.

Ohio State had one more chance, but Evan Turner missed a leaning 15-footer. The Buckeyes sophomore was terrific all night, finishing with 25 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and two steals.

[+] EnlargeEvan Turner
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireEvan Turner was brilliant in defeat for Ohio State, scoring 28 points, grabbing nine rebounds and handing out eight assists.
"I thought he was going to spin but he tried to fake it and then went up," said Hasbrouck, who was guarding Turner on the play. "I was just praying that he'd miss. I was praying basically the whole game. I couldn't play another overtime."

Hasbrouck, Siena's leading scorer, suffered through a 4-for-16 shooting night. He was only 1-for-9 on 3-pointers, but his one make came with 47.6 seconds left in regulation. The Saints shot just 33.3 percent for the game but stayed in the game by outrebounding the bigger Buckeyes 53-37.

In the end, the experienced mid-major proved tougher than the Big Ten team, even in Ohio State's backyard. Siena advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, while the Buckeyes played in the NIT. McCaffery then challenged his guys with games this year against Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh and Kansas.

"With what these kids have been through and the schedule we put in front of them, they never rattled," McCaffery said. "It would have been easy when [Ohio State] went up nine in the second half for them to fold, but they never did."

"We've got a lot of fight in us," Hasbrouck said.

Moore was mobbed by teammates after the final horn and the Siena throng that made the trip from Albany, N.Y., chanted his name before his CBS interview. A hero was born. A very tired hero.

"I know a lot of people want to talk to me about it, but I need my rest," he said, wrapping up his last batch of interviews. "I'm so drained."

Brian Bennett covers college basketball and football for ESPN.com.

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