A 1 p.m. Sunday start time is usually associated with the turning on the TV to settle in and watch your favorite NFL team. Today’s contest at the McCann Center may have had more in common with a football game than a traditional NCAA basketball game. There were bodies all over the floor, 45 combined personal fouls, and a heated crowd ready to let the officials have it after every bad call. But it all ended with a 63-55 Red Foxes win over Elon.
“If we’re going to be champions we’re going to have to play and win ugly at times,” said coach Brian Giorgis.
Marist looked like they might be on the ropes early, with a turnover plagued start allowing Elon to go up 6-0. Coach Brian Giorgis was forced to use an early timeout.
“We faced adversity from the start and with the foul trouble.” Said Giorgis. “It was a slap in the face,” he said of Elon’s aggressive playing style.
The Red Foxes finally got on the board with a Willow Duffell layup which made it 8-2. Elon continuously found ways to get the ball inside and built the lead to 14-4. From there, something clicked for Marist who was able to cut the lead to 16-11 by the end of the period.
The Red Foxes used their momentum from the first quarter to charge into the lead. Kendall Krick hit her second three of the afternoon to give Marist an 18-16 advantage. Despite Alana Gilmer going to the bench after picking up two early fouls, the Red Foxes were able to pound the ball inside and score in the paint or get fouled trying. 11-13 foul shooting and a stifling defense that held Elon to 2-13 from the floor enabled Marist to outscore their opponent 24-7 in the second quarter, building a 35-23 halftime lead.
“If people are going to foul us, we’re going to make them pay. I don’t care how we get to two points and we have on the best foul shooters of all-time,” he said, citing Rebekah Hand’s abilities at the line.
The game became more and more physical, enabling Elon to stick around. The Phoenix were able to score the last five points of the third quarter, capping it off with a three from Ariel Colon to make it a 46-37 game heading into the fourth.
Rebekah Hand, who was back into the game after a brief injury scare, hit a three to make it 49-37 with under ten-minutes left. However, an extended field goal drought kept Elon in the game, despite the Phoenix not doing very much when they had the ball either. The Marist drought finally ended when Alana Gilmer made a layup to stretch the lead to 53-43. From there, Elon went on a quick 9-2 run, which included seven points from Jada Graves. The scoreboard read 55-52 with 30 seconds left and the crowd was shocked into silence.
Luckily for the Red Fox faithful, Elon was forced to foul Rebekah Hand who drained two clutch free throws to up the lead to 57-52. A charging foul by Elon’s Jaylin Powell, followed by two more Hand free throws that made it 59-52; the final few free-throws sealed a 63-55 victory for the home team.
Rebekah Hand led Marist with 22 points, going 6-13 from the field, and a crucial 9-10 from the charity stripe. Foul shooting played a huge role in the Red Foxes’ victory, as the team went 24-29 from the line and a perfect 8-8 down the stretch.
“I loved how we fought back after getting slapped in the face,” said Hand. “It was a great test for us.”
Marist was also helped by Grace Vander Weide (12 points) bench players like Kendall Krick, who hit two threes of the bench and Allie Best who played the role of floor general in her 25 minutes.
“Our subs like Kendall and Allie came in and really gave us a boost,” Giorgis said. “You always know they’re going to give you the intensity you want” He added. “It felt great to give the team a boost,” said Krick. “That’s our job coming off the bench.”
Still looming over the win was Marist’s worst shooting game so far this season. They struggled outside of the second quarter, finishing 18-47 from the floor and an abysmal 3-17 from three. Good news: Elon could not do any better, finishing 19-56 (34 percent) from the floor.
Marist is 3-0 and will head down to Florida to play against North Florida and Lipscomb in the MAAC/Atlantic Sun Challenge. The games are slated for Friday and Saturday, both at noon.
Edited by Will Bjarnar