A Friday afternoon on campus is usually the time to make weekend plans or grab some chicken nuggets at the dining hall. The Marist women’s basketball team didn’t have time for luxuries like that; they were working on a 69-54 victory over North Florida, a win that sent them to 4-0 on the year.
Even though they were playing in the northern part of Florida against the University of North Florida, Marist donned their home whites and had a distinct fan presence for the entirety of the game. Naturally, thet were led by seniors Rebekah Hand, Alana Gilmer, and Grace Vander Weide, all of whom notched double-digit scoring performances. It was business as usual for Hand, who scored a game-high 17 points). Gilmer, whose 16 points included a three-of-four afternoon from behind the three-point line, was the alternative offense guide. But it was Vander Weide, who scored 15 of her own, that really stood out. She made her first five shots of the day, including a trio of threes, and added six rebounds and five assists.
“They’re really focused,” Marist head coach Brian Giorgis said of his seniors. “We had a lull in the first half, but we did a much better job after, and the big kids stepped in [at] the end,”
An Alana Gilmer three gave Marist a 12-6 lead roughly halfway through the first quarter. North Florida responded by going on a 13-2 run that stretched into the second quarter, giving them a 19-14 advantage. But Marist dug their heels in, and a Grace Vander Weide three gave them a 28-27 lead with a minute left in the half. She added two free throws for a 30-27 halftime advantage.
Gilmer scored Marist’s first five second-half points, including a three to break a tie at 32, putting the Red Foxes up for good. Molly Smith came off the bench to hit a three that made it 44-36, but North Florida stayed around scoring the next four points.
In what had to be the worst moment of the day for the Red Foxes, center Willow Duffell was injured in a rebounding scrum. She was able to limp off the court but could barely put any pressure on her injured leg. Rebekah Hand, who was fouled on the play, made two free throws that made it 46-40 going into the last 10 minutes.
Adrienne Jackson hit a shot-clock beating three to make it 46-43, and a Dasha Eremeeva three-point play in response to a Grace Vander Weide layup cut it to 48-46. Then the seniors took over for Marist. Vander Weide hit her third three of the day and then rifled a pass from beyond half-court to Alana Gilmer who laid it in and was fouled in the process. In no time, it was 60-50, Marist. North Florida lengthened the game by pressing and cut the deficit to 60-54, but Marist scored the last nine points of the game. Another Molly Smith three was the dagger and Marist ended up with a 15-point win.
The Red Foxes assisted on 20 of 24 of their made field goals, showing just how well the ball was moving. They finished 24-of-53 from the floor and a whopping 12-of-28 from three. The charity stripe was also Marist’s friend, as the team went a perfect nine-of-nine of the day. Marist did struggle with turnovers, finishing with 18 on the afternoon and was outrebounded 36-29.
North Florida could not take advantage of the numerous opportunities gifted to them by the Red Foxes. The Ospreys finished 38 percent from the floor and 25 percent from beyond the arc. North Florida was the latest team to fall victim to Marist’s defense, as they committed a staggering 22 giveaways of their own.
“Defensively we were great today,” Giorgis added. “We made the right rotations and made them earn shots and took away a lot of what they wanted to do,”
Janesha Green led the Ospreys with 14 points.
Marist will be in action tomorrow at noon, facing Lipscomb in the second day of the MAAC/Atlantic Sun Challenge.
Edited by Will Bjarnar