ALBANY, N.Y.—The second-seeded Marist Women’s Basketball team defeated the seventh-seeded Manhattan Lady Jaspers by a score 84-60 in the quarterfinal round of the MAAC tournament at the Times Union Center on Friday afternoon.
“We are fortunate that we prevailed. It’s advance and survive time,” Marist Coach Brian Giorgis said. “We survived this one and look forward to playing the winner of Niagara and Siena.” This is the 14th time during Giorgis’ 16-year tenure that the Red Foxes have reached the semifinals of the MAAC tournament.
Marist had quite the night shooting the basketball, posting 60 percent from the field, shooting 10 for 19 from 3-point territory, and hitting 14 of 15 from the free throw line. Alana Gilmer led the team in scoring with 23 points, off of an efficient 10 for 16 from the field. In addition, Rebekah Hand had 15 points, going 4 for 7 from 3-point territory.
On the defensive side of the ball, Marist was able to shut down Manhattan’s Amani Tatum, who averaged 12.9 points per game this season. Defended by Marist star defensive player, Maura Fitzpatrick, she was forced to go 1 for 12 on 3-pointers for the game. Fitzpatrick, who was named MAAC defensive player of the year earlier in the day, took on her typical responsibility of shutting down the opposing team’s main offensive threat.
Tonight, that happened to be Tatum. “I think today was a good example of why she won (the award)… She went up against a great player (Tatum) that had an outstanding game yesterday,” Giorgis said. “She didn’t win it by leading the conference with steals or blocked shots. She did it by taking on the best player one through four night in and night out.”
The other time these two teams met this season, Marist dominated Manhattan. Early on, the Red Foxes made it look like this game would have a similar story. Marist quickly climbed to a 10-0 lead to start the game, capped by an open Fitzpatrick 3-pointer with 7:40 left in the first.
After getting down early, Manhattan began to press. Scoring two baskets after steals came as a cause of the press, Manhattan came back to make the game 10-8 with 4:30 left in the first. Similar to their final game of the regular season in the loss against Niagara, Marist had trouble breaking the press. They committed 7 turnovers in the first quarter alone. The Red Foxes finished the game with 20 turnovers, a majority being forced by the Manhattan press.
“Pressing is feast or famine, and today it was exactly like that,” Giorgis said of the team’s mixed results from being pressed. “We scored about 28 points off the press and gave up 20 points off turnovers. As long as we attack and pressure, I’ll take a few turnovers here and there as long as we are getting good shots and easy baskets off of it.” Rebekah Hand had a crucial buzzer-beating three to end the first quarter, to increase the Red Fox lead to 18-12.
The Red Foxes started the second quarter by going on another unanswered scoring run. Marist ripped off 13 unanswered points to start the quarter, creating a sizable 31-12 lead with 5:57 left in the second. Manhattan could not get their 3-point shot to fall, going 3 for 15 in the first half from behind the arc. On offense, Alana Gilmer, who on Tuesday was named Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association’s Co-Player of the Week, continued her productivity on offense, leading the team with 11 points in the half. Hand also contributed with 9 points of her own, along with 6 rebounds.
For Manhattan, center Kayla Grimme led the Lady Jaspers with 9 points in the half. At halftime, the Foxes remained in control, 41-29.
In the second half, Manhattan never made a significant run to climb back into the game. To end the third quarter, Kendall Baab passed to an open Allie Best for three to go up 62-39, the largest lead of the game to that point.
In the fourth, Gilmer continued to tack onto the lead. She finished with 23 points, making this her third game in a row with 20-plus points. Duffell also contributed to the increasing late lead in the final quarter by knocking down a pair of jumpers. Not only was 28 the largest lead for the Foxes, the team led for the games’ entirety. The one bright spot for the Lady Jaspers’ second half offense was Grimme, who scored 16 of Manhattan’s 31 points at the half.
Marist now advances to the semifinal round of the MAAC tournament where they will take on Siena. The game will be on Sunday, March 4th at 1:30 p.m. If they win Sunday, the team will play in the MAAC finals Monday at 3:30, which will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Even though the Red Foxes had a worry-free victory Friday, Gilmer believes that the team still has things to think about for Sunday. “I think we are really trying to improve on our press breaker,” Gilmer said. “I feel we struggled with that… If we clean that up it will help us tremendously.”