Marist set a new season-high point total in their 96-76 win against MAAC foe Saint Peter’s on Saturday night. 96 points is the fourth-highest output from the Red Foxes since Brian Giorgis took over in 2002.
Marist had five different players score in double figures. Rebekah Hand had a game-high 25 points, while also filling the stat sheet with seven rebounds and six assists. Alana Gilmer chipped in with 19 of her own and Sarah Barcello added 11. Grace Vander Weide finished with a double-double scoring 10 and grabbing 11 rebounds. Trinasia Kennedy also finished with 10 points, a new career-high.
“Our main goal is to share the ball,” said senior Rebekah Hand. “We were trying to get as many assists as possible and I think we play best when we do that.”
The contrast between teams could not have been more stark. Saint Peter’s, picked to finish dead last in the MAAC dressed only nine players, the tallest, Yamel Abreu standing at just five feet nine inches. Marist was deemed the favorite in the 11-team MAAC and is known for its depth. Even Marist’s shortest starter, Rebekah Hand, was taller than any of Saint Peter’s starters.
Despite these predictions and numbers, it was the Peacocks who jumped on the Red Foxes early. Saint Peter’s spaced the floor brilliantly, allowing their quick guards to get in the paint and score at will. Marist found themselves down 14-4 less than four minutes in. The Red Fox offense would eventually find its rhythm, but Saint Peter’s refused to cool down, shooting 10-14 in a frenetic first quarter saw the Peacocks end with a 27-25 lead.
Giorgis was anything but happy with his team’s defense. “I thought the defense was awful,” he said. “They made us pay for every mistake and showed that we need to play defense for all 30 seconds on the shot clock.”
As Marist began to control the pace, it was only a matter of time until they took their first lead. Saint Peter’s continued to shoot well but could not maintain the 70% clip of the first quarter as foul trouble began to mount. Grace Vander Weide gave Marist their first lead with a layup that it made it 37-35, a lead that would not change hands for the rest of the contest. A bucket by Barcello with five seconds left in the half, helped Marist take a 49-41 lead into the locker room.
The Red Foxes strengthened their grip by scoring the first six points of the third quarter to cap off a 20-6 run and open a 55-41 lead. Rebekah Hand began to find her three-point stroke, which had been inconsistent for the past few games. She combined with Allie Best two hot two consecutive threes that stretched a 10-point lead back to sixteen. Hand hit another three and finished the quarter with a layup, giving Marist a 69-55 advantage heading into the last 10 minutes.
Saint Peter’s did their best to hang around but succumbed to their lack of depth and size in the fourth quarter. Alana Gilmer scored the Red Foxes first eight points of the stanza and Marist began to pound the ball into the paint, with Rebekah Hand being the beneficiary, connecting on multiple layups. Trinasia Kennedy gave the Red Foxes their new season-high point total with her second three of the game and Marist had its second MAAC win in three nights.
“We executed well on offense and wore them down a little,” Giorgis said. “But we’ve got to pay more attention to the scouting report on defense and execute better. Once we do that we’ll be a very tough team to beat.”
The Red Foxes also set a new season-high with 40 made field goals on 75 shots, good for a 53% clip. They went 9-of-22 (41%) from long range and set a new high in assists, with 26 on the night. They outrebounded their much smaller opponent 41-28 but did struggle from the charity stripe, going just seven-of-13.
The Peacocks were led in scoring by Taiah Thornton, who finished with 23 points on 11 made shots. Four of their starters finished the game in double-figures.
Saint Peter’s shot 29-of-60 (48%) from the field, but just 19-of-46 after the first quarter. The Peacocks managed a seven-of-19 mark from three but fell victim to 18 turnovers that led to 22 Marist points.
The Red Foxes will head to Western New York for a two-game road trip which begins on Thursday against Canisius. Tip-off is scheduled for 11 a.m.
Edited by Will Bjarnar