POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — The beginning of the Marist-Dunne era began in less than ideal fashion. A four-point loss to the Army Black Knights put an early damper on a young season. It wouldn’t last, though, as the Red Foxes bounced back appropriately.
Marist started off hot tonight in their early-season matchup against the Columbia Lions, and walked away 82-76 winners. The win was their first in a home opener since 2007. In addition, it was a first for newly appointed head coach John Dunne. Following Tuesday’s loss at Army, Marist played with an extra edge in order to best Columbia and avoid an 0-2 start to the season.
Marist led at the half 38-35 following what was an up and down first half. Early threes from seniors Ryan Funk and David Knudsen helped Marist jump ahead early. Fast forward four minutes, and the tables had turned.
The Lions, having trailed 21-8, scrapped back. By attacking the rim with consistency, especially point guard Mike Smith, and creating continuous inside opportunities, the Lions were able to come back within two and trail only 23-21. With roughly four minutes left in the half, Marist’s lead extended to 36-25, and eventually to 38-35 at halftime, following a short Columbia run.
On two separate occasions, Marist coughed up a double-digit lead, allowing Columbia to fight their way back into the game. It came as a product of sloppy offensive play; Marist committed 16 turnovers, making their season total a whopping 28 after merely two games.
Senior Brian Parker built on an excellent start to the season scoring wise. He has lead the team in scoring through two games, and was able to put up 21 points tonight on six of 13 shooting. On the other hand, though, Parker struggled with ball security, as he alone had seven turnovers.
“I gotta stop turning the ball over. How many did I have? Probably double digits,” he said. “I’m never satisfied,” continued Parker after the game. It’s a good attitude to build off of going into Tuesday’s matchup against Lehigh. Coach Dunne chipped in about his displeasure with the high amount of turnovers, saying, “I mean, we can’t turn the ball over.” However, he added that he was happy his squad didn’t “play scared or tentative.”
While Parker paced Marist on the scoring end, the difference-making play came at the hands of senior swingman David Knudsen. Knudsen had himself a night. He ended up going five for nine from three, good for 15 total points. With the senior leading the way, Marist was able to out shoot Columbia, nailing 12 threes compared to seven for the visitors. After the game, Knudsen joked about his tendency to stay beyond the arc. Since Columbia led Marist in dunks, two to zero, Knudsen figured he should focus on a different kind of playmaking. “I don’t dunk that much,” he said. “I have to find other ways to put it in.” The sharpshooter made that clear, nailing a plentiful number of threes and providing an always welcome spark for the home squad.
In addition to Parker and Knudsen, Ryan Funk poured in 13 points and three triples off the bench. Freshman point guard Darius Hines filled a necessary role, providing 11 points on 80-percent shooting. It will be interesting to see going forward how Coach Dunne manages the rotation and lineup. Freshmen guard Hines and forward Luke Nedrow saw extended playing time, and both stepped up to the challenge. Dunne praised the duo’s “physical and mental toughness,” as this was only their second collegiate game.
As for moving forward, Coach Dunne emphasized “I’m just really happy for these guys… we are really happy with a win for about an hour, then you start thinking about the next game.”
Edited by Will Bjarnar