Coming off Tuesday’s thrilling win against Rider, Marist found itself in a spot where many other teams would have suffered a letdown game. If there’s one thing we have learned this season, it’s that the Red Foxes are not most teams. They breezed past Canisius in an 86-72 home victory on Thursday night and strengthened their position at the top of the MAAC.
Red Foxes head coach Brian Giorgis repeatedly told his team they could not afford a letdown. The message was heard loud and clear. Marist used dominant second and third quarters to overpower a Canisius team who they had pummeled, 90-59, in their previous meeting in Buffalo.
“I thought it was a great win for us,” said Giorgis. “We were in prime shape for a letdown after Tuesday and our kids played well for the entire game, which allowed us to get some other people some playing time.”
Much like the first meeting, Marist (19-4, 12-2 in the MAAC) got terrific production from their senior-laden core of Alana Gilmer, Rebekah Hand, and Grace Vander Weide. Gilmer led all scorers with 20 points on an economical 9-of-12 shooting night. Rebekah Hand added 18 with seven assists and Vander Weide, who had only scored nine points in her last three games, chipped in with 14 points to go with seven rebounds and seven assists. Sarah Barcello had her second double-digit scoring performance since coming back from injury, finishing with 10.
“This has definitely been our hardest stretch so far this season,” said Hand. “Our bench has done a great job of lightening the load and I think we’re in a good place coming down the stretch.”
Canisius (3-19, 2-11 in the MAAC) got a team-high 19 from Danielle Sanderlin. AJ Timbers was the only other Golden Griffin in double-figures with 12. The team’s leading scorer, D’Jhai Patterson-Ricks was held to eight points on three-of-nine shooting.
Canisius, led by Patterson-Ricks, hung around in the first quarter, but four Gilmer points in the last minute gave the Red Foxes a 20-16 lead after ten minutes.
Two Vander Weide layups that came on fastbreaks, pushed the lead to eight. The senior trio had scored the first 24 points of the contest but was interrupted by a flurry of activity from Sarah Barcello. The sophomore dropped eight straight points on two three-pointers and a layup. The lead was up to 32-21 and kept growing thanks to contributions from Hannah Hand, who pitched in five points and countless hustle plays that are not seen in the box score. Allie Best hit a pull-up jumper that sent Marist into the locker room with a 45-28 advantage.
Gilmer continued to assert herself inside, hitting two jumpers that extended the lead to 51-33. Duffell converted a three-point play that was set up by a gorgeous feed from Rebekah Hand, who hit a three shortly after, stretching the lead to 63-41. Canisius managed to cut into the lead with terrific three-point shooting, going five-of-eight in the quarter. The Red Foxes offense, however, was running like a well-oiled machine and the ball was moving like a scalding hot potato. Marist entered the fourth quarter with a 73-56 cushion.
“Our movement was great tonight,” continued Giorgis. “Some were cuts, some were screens, and when we’re patient, we have numbers like we did tonight.”
In the fourth, Kendall Krick made the play of the game, contorting herself and finishing an up-and-under layup that stretched the advantage to 19. Vander Weide extended the lead to 78-58 with her second three-pointer of the evening and a Gilmer layup made it 82-60.
Like most of their victories this season, Giorgis was able to take his starters out midway through the final ten minutes and give the bench players extra minutes. The Golden Griffins were able to slash into the deficit by hitting some late threes, but it was far too little too late and Marist was able to extend its winning streak to five games.
The Red Foxes had their second-best shooting performance of the season, going an incendiary 36-of-62 (59 percent) from the floor. Their seven-of-22 (32 percent) effort from long range, was a testament to how well Marist scored inside, as they finished with 52 points in the paint. Ball movement was also a key as the Red Foxes fell one short of their season-high with 28 assists.
“We like the 28 assist number for some reason,” said Giorgis. “We can’t get over that hump but it’s great compared to just 10 turnovers.”
Canisius managed a 26-of-56 (46 percent) performance from the field. Their 12-of-26 (also 46 percent) mark from three-point range, kept the game from going into blowout territory. They were outrebounded 32-26 by the Marist.
The Red Foxes will travel up the Thruway to face rival Siena on Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for noon.
Edited by Will Bjarnar
Header image by Mike Cahill