The Red Foxes held Niagara to the second fewest points allowed by a Marist team since 2012 in their 67-48 victory on Friday night.
“They’re usually a really good shooting team,” said Marist head coach John Dunne. “Our whole focus was hopefully we can keep them out of transition, which I thought we did. Second focus was on ball screen defense. We just wanted to disrupt their rhythm.”
The Red Foxes entered Friday night’s outing tied for last in the MAAC and on the second game of a three-game road trip after falling to Siena in Albany last Friday night. Niagara sat at .500 in conference and were returning home after losing both games of their two-game road trip.
Both teams suffered a sluggish start after just nine combined points were scored in the first five minutes and 17 seconds of the game but a 16-5 run from the Red Foxes to open the game was aided by a strong first half defensive effort that ultimately held the Purple Eagles to just 17 points, 26.3% shooting, and no field goals in the first six minutes and 10 seconds.
“I thought we did a good job guarding their shooters outside the arc,” said Dunne. “Having good offense on the other end doesn’t hurt.”
It was a dominant defensive performance for head coach John Dunne and his stern defense as Marist held Niagara to just 34.9% shooting from the field. Friday night’s performance marked the first time since January 21, 2019 that Marist led a game wire-to-wire.
“We have to stay focused,” said Dunne. “We felt good about the way were playing and we just didn’t want to give them life by turning the ball over. We just felt good that if we stayed locked in and focused that we could come away with the win.”
Jordan Jones assumed the role of Marist’s top scorer in the victory with 18 points on eight-for-13 from the field, tying a career high for the redshirt junior. Junior guard Michael Cubbage had an all-around game with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists in the second double-double of his career. Sophomore Braden Bell also pitched in 15 points on five-for-seven shooting.
“Jordan’s just getting better and better,” said Dunne. “We made it a big point to go inside against Niagara because we had the size advantage and he delivered. He missed two early easy ones and instead of getting down, he kept a good mental attitude and delivered.”
Niagara came into tonight as the third-worst rebounding team in the nation this season. The Foxes took full advantage of their interior prowess and outrebounded the Purple Eagles 41-27.
“Rebounding was a big point of emphasis for us,” said Dunne. “We knew we were going to have to beat them on the backboard to win.”
Niagara falls to 6-14 on the season and 4-5 in the conference in their third straight defeat. They will host 11-8 Quinnipiac on Sunday.
Marist improves to 5-14 on the season and 4-6 in the MAAC with the win. They will travel to Buffalo on Sunday and take on Canisius.
Edited by Lily Caffrey-Levine
Header Image courtesy of Mike Cahill