Marist’s defense dominated on the way to a victory over Fairfield as the Red Foxes held the Stags to just two points in the first quarter during their commanding 85-44 win on Tuesday night. The 41-point margin of victory is the Red Foxes’ largest of the season.
“One of our best games of the year on both ends of the floor,” said Marist head coach Brian Giorgis.
Coming off a 16-point home win over Canisius, the Red Foxes were looking to keep the ball rolling against a Fairfield team that just had their three-game winning streak snapped after a home loss to Canisius on Sunday.
It was a brutal first half for Fairfield as they missed their first 16 shots and were held to a staggering 14 percent shooting from the field. The Stags would fail to score until the 2:12 mark of the first quarter and wouldn’t go on to make a shot from the field until 11 minutes into the game when Sam Kramer converted on a jump shot.
“We took away a lot of their drives and forced them to the perimeter,” said Giorgis.
Two points in the first quarter from Fairfield tied a season low output in any quarter for Joe Frager’s squad, the only other time coming against Xavier earlier in the season. The Stags would only convert on four shots from the field in the first half.
“We got good stops on our defensive end and it helped us get into our offense,” said Giorgis. “I thought we contested and made it difficult for them, especially when they went to the basket. The main thing was that we were able to hold them to one shot and push the ball on our end.”
Grace Vander Weide led the way for the Red Foxes, scoring a career-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds and six assists. Willow Duffell (13), Rebekah Hand (12), and Lovisa Henningsdottir (12) all chipped in as double-digit scorers for Marist. The bench produced 35 of the team’s 85 points on the night.
“Grace and Willow had huge games,” said junior captain Rebekah Hand. “It’s good for us when we’re all contributing. It spreads the offense and makes the other team work a lot harder.”
When asked about the production from the bench, Brian Giorgis credited the importance of depth. “Your bench is always important. It’s hard to go with an iron five,” said Giorgis.
Defense led to offense for Marist as they were able to shoot 56 percent from the field while scoring 21 of their points off turnovers. Assists helped contribute to the efficient shooting on the night with Marist converting 22 to Fairfield’s eight.
“I think this is a big momentum win because the end of the season is coming up and we wanted to come in and make a statement,” said junior guard Grace Vander Weide. “We want to win, we don’t want second or third.”
Tuesday night’s win improves the Red Foxes to an overall 19-8 on the season, 11-4 in the conference and 8-4 at home. The Red Foxes will hope to remain hot on Saturday as they travel to Quinnipiac to take on the undefeated Bobcats.
“Their defense is really good and we’re going to have to play better offense than we have,” said Giorgis. “We need to continue to shoot the ball well and open up driving lanes and shoot well. We’re looking forward to it.”
Brian Giorgis told his team one thing before the game started. He took a quote from Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield’s famous press conference quote this past season.
“I told them, ‘I think we’re feeling dangerous tonight,’” said Giorgis.
Edited by Oscar Fick