Marist Rolls Past Albany in Home Opener, 76-52

Marist cruised past Albany, 76-52 on what proved to be a truly special Wednesday night inside the McCann Center.

Pregame ceremonies honored Alana Gilmer for scoring 1,000 points (a mark that was set in last year’s MAAC Tournament) and head coach Brian Giorgis for winning his 400th game last Friday at Boston University. Naturally, Rebekah Hand moved into third place on the Marist all-time scoring list with her first basket of the game, passing Stacy Dengler.

“We were all really happy for Alana and coach,” Hand said after the game. “We’re all just playing for each other at this point.”

The Red Fox faithful were full of energy before tip-off, propelling the home team to a quick start. The fans had plenty to cheer about after a Sarah Barcello layup gave Marist a 9-2 lead and forced an Albany timeout. During the intermission, Marist English professor Tommy Zurhellen was honored for his walk across the country in support of veterans. Zurhellen was met with a standing ovation and came back for an encore at halftime where he announced his campaign for next summer: finish 20 marathons in 20 weeks. A truly herculean task, but we know he’s more than capable; this year, he’s looking for volunteers to join.

Marist rode the crowd, ball movement, and stifling defense to a 24-9 lead after the first quarter. The Red Foxes shot a scintillating 11-17 (65 percent), with assists on eight of the 11 makes. The defense more than held their own, forcing 11 turnovers and only three field goals in seven attempts.

“I thought we got off to a great start,” said Giorgis. “Our defense was aggressive, forcing a number of turnovers and it was a great team effort with balanced scoring and balanced minutes.”

Marist kept the hot shooting going into the second quarter, shooting seven of 12 from the field and four-of-six from three. The Red Foxes’ formula for success was inside-out basketball. Alana Gilmer was able to score seemingly at will from the free-throw line and in. This led to a three-point barrage from the Red Foxes; one especially poignant moment came when Hannah Hand found her sister Rebekah for a wide-open corner three that helped Marist to a 42-24 lead going into halftime. This came after Hannah scored her first points since February 2018, punctuating her seven-point night with a three that gave Marist a 34-19 lead with 5:45 left in the half.

“It was really great playing with Hannah again,” her sister said. “It was that sister connection. She came out, played hard and really helped us.”

The first half stats were just as telling for Marist as they were for Albany. The Red Foxes assisted on 14 of their 18 made field goals, shot 62 percent, and scored 18 points off Albany turnovers. The Great Danes could only manage 39 percent from the floor and turned the ball over a painstaking 16 times.

Marist cooled down considerably in the third quarter, but the Great Danes could not capitalize. The closest they could get was 46-33 but Allie Best and Alana Gilmer were able to restore order and Marist took a 53-37 lead into the last 10 minutes.

“Sometimes we have lapses. In the third quarter, we didn’t shoot well, and we needed our defense to carry us,” Giorgis said.

Marist used an 8-0 run to stretch the lead to 61-37, keyed by threes from Rebekah Hand and Willow Duffell. This effectively put the game away. The main highlight of the fourth quarter was seeing Marist employee Jack win a putting contest by cozying nearly a 70-foot putt up to a fake hole to win him and a guest a free round of golf. Hope you can find your ball in those leaves, Jack.

From there, Red Fox reserves like Trinasia Kennedy, Julianna Bonilla, and Kendall Krick each saw time and helped give the Marist the 76-52 margin.

Alana Gilmer and Sarah Barcello tied for a team-high 12 points and Rebekah Hand added 10 of her own, showing how balanced the Red Fox offensive attack can be. Grace Vander Weide nearly messed around and got a triple-double, but still filled the stat sheet with nine points, eight rebounds, and six assists.

The Great Danes were led by Alexi Schecter with a game-high 17 points. No Albany player finished with a positive plus-minus, showing that no Albany lineup could best the Red Foxes.

Marist will be back in action Sunday as they take on Elon inside the McCann Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Edited by Will Bjarnar

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