Marist guard Alana Gilmer finished the night with 14 points to help Marist defeat Canisius 66-50 Saturday night at the McCann Arena. It was a solid night for Gilmer, who ranks fifth in points per game in the MAAC with 15.5, but it was not her performance on the court that made this game special for her.
Last night’s game was the annual Play4Kay Night, which partners with the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation. To honor breast cancer survivors, the Marist team sported bright pink and white jerseys and shorts. The McCann Arena crowd, which leads the MAAC in attendance, were given pink shirts to form a pink out game.
Dominique Gilmer, Alana’s mom, was among the breast cancer survivors honored during the game’s halftime ceremony.
“I personally play for my mom. She (is a) survivor of breast cancer, so this game is huge for me and makes me a little emotional,” Gilmer said. “These games are huge to show the support and the love out there. That people are thinking about them and how strong they are. So it was awesome we got the win and it was awesome that we were able to get it in a game like this.”
Marist’s team performance on the court gave the home crowd a fitting, heartfelt performance. With the end of the Marist bench cheering and waving their pink towels in the air throughout the night.
The last time the Marist women played at home, they had a deflating 68-58 loss to Rider. After the game, an irritated Brian Giorgis said that the team got out “physical, hustled and toughened,” the head coach also called the offense “a hot mess.” A somber Gilmer added, “We need to come out with an edge to us some fire and anger in us. Because we know how good we can be. We want to do great things so we have to come out and not let that happen again.”
A week and a half later, it was an entirely different tone.
“You got a lot of kids that are very veteran-ish,” Giorgis said. “I think it is important that you have to be resilient and work hard and they have.”
Grace Vander Weide, who was out with a hand injury in the last home game, help spark a higher energy level to kick off the game by getting two steals and knocking down a three-pointer within the first three minutes of the game to help aid Marist to pull ahead 11-0. The Golden Griffins committed nine turnovers in the first quarter, which resulted in the Red Foxes creating easy baskets on the offensive end, to help establish a 17-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Red Foxes’ lead continued to grow. Per usual, Rebekah Hand and Gilmer led the scoring efforts with 13 and 12 points, respectively, in the first half. What was new was the team’s command on defense, holding the Golden Griffins to just four points in the second quarter. Playing an aggressive zone, Marist was able to hold Canisius lead scorer Sara Hinriksdottir to two points on 1-for-8 shooting. Overall, the Icelandic native scored nine points.
“We wanted to stop their two main scorers and I feel that we did that,” Gilmer said.
“We had to be more consistent, and we were today,” Giorgis said about the defensive effort. “Fortunately, they missed some shots when they were opened. But for us to create 14 turnovers in the first half that is a big deal for us and six steals. That was really critical for us and good for us going on the other end of the floor.”
The score at halftime was a commanding 38-11 Marist lead. The 27-point lead was the largest halftime lead for Marist this season. The 11 points given up was also the Red Foxes lowest point total for a half this year.
The Golden Griffins were able to pick it up in the second half scoring 39 points, led by D’Jai Patterson-Ricks scoring eleven including going 7-for-7 with free throws. However, Marist’s three-point shooting, going 6-for-20, kept the lead in double-digits throughout the second half.
Rebekah Hand led the game in scoring with 18 points and shooting 4-for-8 on three-point attempts. In total, the team hit 12 three-pointers.
With the win, Marist improves their record to 10-4 in the MAAC, still in third in the standings behind Quinnipiac and Rider. Canisius drops to a 6-8 conference record, which puts them in fifth.
Compared to the last home game, Gilmer had a much more upbeat outlook about the team’s future, “We can take the things we did tonight and build off of it. I feel we did some great things and we can continue doing that going forward.”
In addition to the Play4Kay honorees, another notable thing happened during a television timeout. Former Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones was in attendance, and he participated in a golf-themed contest where a person has three tries to hit a golf ball and make it land on a circular grass patch about three-fourth of a basketball court away. He did it. Earning himself a Lola’s gift card.
Edited by Oscar Fick