POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.—Reminiscent tears fell down the face of senior Kendall Baab before tip-off.
The Marist women’s basketball team played their final home game of the season Saturday night against Niagara University, but Baab played the final game of her career in McCann Arena.
When Marist announced all senior players to walk out to half-court with their loved ones to be honored during the pre-game, there was one player to step forward. Baab is the only senior on the team of 13. The 6’2 forward out of Chaska, Minnesota, has spent all four years at Marist, playing in 101 games.
Baab is a 3-time academic letter winner, a member of the National Honor Society and has earned multiple Dean’s List awards. This season, Baab has played in 25 games, starting two, and is enjoying career-highs in field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. She went into Saturday’s game averaging 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds.
“I thought it was going to be, honestly, way worse,” said Baab on her pre-game emotions. “I knew I was going to cry. I thought it kind of pumped me up. I think it changed into positive energy. I wanted to play for the crowd, and for my family and for my team.”
Baab came into senior night averaging 9.8 minutes per game, but she played 14 of the game’s first 20 minutes. She was good for 1 rebound and 2 points.
Marist went into the locker room at halftime trailing 36-28. Teammates Rebekah Hand, shooting 3-7 at the half with 11 points, and Alana Gilmer, 4-9 with 10 points, helped Marist stay within eight. Niagara’s star forward, Victoria Rampado, had 10 points, going toe-to-toe with Hand. The two are the MAAC’s leading scorers.
In the second half, Coach Brian Giorgis resorted to his usual 5-womanrotation of Hand, Maura Fitzpatrick, Grace Vander Weide, Gilmer and Willow Duffel.
That rotation could not close the gap against 7th-ranked Niagara. Marist did not hold one lead in the entire game. Some garbage time 3-pointers helped Marist get within seven, but that was as close as they would come in the remaining minutes.
Baab returned with 11.9 seconds left for one final McCann Arena send-off. This would be her only appearance in the second half. The senior finished with 2 points and 1 rebound, ending her regular season career. Niagara spoiled senior night by outscoring Marist, 69-61.
“It’s great to be able to play with my team for the last time,” Baab said. “It’s tough that we lost though. We just have to get them again, hopefully in the tournament.”
Gilmer totaled 20 points and 9 rebounds. Hand finished with 16 points, and Duffell added 10 points of her own.
Rampado piled up 19 points and 11 rebounds, both team highs for the visitors.
Giorgis emphasized the team’s 22 turnovers. Niagara took advantage and made Marist pay. Eighteen points came off failed offensive opportunities and that ended up being the difference in the score. Ball security is an area of their game that will have to be cleaned up before the MAAC tournament.
“Tough way to finish the regular season, credit to Niagara. Every run that we made at them they answered,” Giorgis said. “We’ve had a tough week. We haven’t played well in either game this week.”
Marist is locked into the 2nd seed in the MAAC standings, and they will await to see who will challenge them next Friday in the MAAC Championship Quarterfinals in Albany.