Sunday afternoon’s Senior Game for Marist Men’s Basketball was representative of the four years that Brian Parker, Ryan Funk, Isaiah Lamb, and David Knudsen spent in the program. A solid and promising first half from the Red Foxes saw them head to the locker room with a 38-34 lead over their favored opponents, Rider. Ultimately, the Broncs were favored appropriately, as they would come back later in the second half to defeat the Red Foxes 75-64.
In the middle of the second half is where the wheels began to come off for the home team, as has been the theme for the past couple of seasons. Marist’s second half field goal percentage dipped from 46 percent to 34, while Rider grew more and more efficient. What really buried Head Coach John Dunne’s team was the 25 personal fouls committed. In the final minutes, Rider grabbed the lead and did not let it go.
The theme was all too familiar for the seniors who have experienced many similar losses. What’s different this year is Dunne at the helm, who has more experience in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) than anyone going into the Conference Championships.
This is Dunne’s 13th season coaching in the MAAC, and he has some experience winning in the postseason as well. In 2011 he brought his former team, Saint Peter’s, all the way to the NCAA tournament after winning a MAAC Championship title. In 2017 he even managed to claim the CollegeInsider.com Tournament title, a postseason invitational tournament, beating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The Red Foxes have earned the eight-seed after Sunday’s loss and will play the nine-seed, Saint Peter’s, on Thursday. Facing off against Dunne’s former team twice already this season, Marist has yet to find a winning answer for the Peacocks. Even with a 9-21 overall record, this Saint Peter’s team will be a tough ask for Marist’s play-in game of the 2019 MAAC Championships.
The winner will play Iona, who are on the hunt for their fourth straight Conference title, and fourth straight trip to the Big Dance.
A tough road to the finals in Albany is ahead, to be certain. But despite the demoralizing loss on Senior Day, the Red Foxes can find hope in an experienced coach looking to make his mark at his new home.
Edited by Meaghan Roche
Header image by Allison Smith