Marist collected its twenty-first win of the season in an 82-60 triumph over Saint Peter’s on Thursday night.
The Red Foxes extended their winning streak to seven games with the victory. The Yanitelli Center in Jersey City was something of a house of horrors for the other top MAAC teams. The Peacocks had scored wins over Rider and Fairfield on their home court and were looking to complete the home sweep with a victory against Marist.
The Red Foxes, who won the first meeting 96-76 in Poughkeepsie and 35 of the last 39 meetings, struggled to find separation over the first two-and-a-half quarters. Saint Peter’s hung tough but fell victim to a patented Marist run at the end of the third quarter. The Red Foxes were able to pull away in their signature fashion and keep their half-game MAAC lead over Rider.
“They were playing on their home court and we were having trouble stopping them,” said Marist head coach Brian Giorgis. “We came out in the second half and did a much better job with the motion offense and got stops on the other end. It was a really good win on this court.”
Marist, sitting at 21-4 overall and 14-4 in the MAAC, got another virtuoso performance from Rebekah Hand, who surpassed 1900 career points in her performance. The record-breaking senior from Texas finished with a game-high 26 points on just nine field-goal attempts thanks to a sparkling eight-of-eight night at the charity stripe. Alana Gilmer struggled early but added 20 of her own. Grace Vander Weide and Willow Duffell were the other Red Foxes in double-figures with 14 and 12 points respectively.
“It was a physical game in the first half,” said Hand. “We were able to come out after halftime and meet their intensity.”
Saint Peter’s, at 8-17 overall and 5-11 in conference, was led by Briyanah Richardson who finished with 20. Taiah Thornton added 13 points and Zoe Pero chipped in 11 in the defeat.
Hand poured in 12 quick points and Marist shot five-of-seven from beyond the arc as the Red Foxes got out to a 25-16 lead after the first ten minutes.
In the second quarter, Saint Peter’s showed why it was such a tough out on its home floor. The Peacocks began to close the early gap with back-to-back threes from Sammie Lochner and Richardson punctuated a 16-7 stretch that cut the Marist advantage to 34-33. The Red Foxes responded with scoring from Vander Weide and Duffell to go to break with a 40-37 advantage.
The third quarter represented something of a make-or-break for Saint Peter’s. Down by three, they needed to stay within striking distance of their conference-leading opponent. When Richardson hit a jumper to make it 49-46 halfway through the frame, it looked like the Peacocks were doing just that until Gilmer would hit a three for a 54-46 Marist lead. An eventual 15-5 run from the Red Foxes provided crucial breathing room much like their previous game against Siena.
“We had a strong third quarter on both sides of the ball,” said Giorgis. “I know we have our runs but I don’t like to think we are stronger in any individual quarter. It takes four good quarters to win games.”
The defense, which had its struggles in the first half, was forcing contested jumpers that were not falling for Saint Peter’s in the fourth quarter. Giorgis was able to empty his bench late as his team finished off another impressive conference victory.
The Red Foxes finished over 50 percent from the field for the 12th time this season with a 28-of-55 shooting effort. Marist also shot a scorching 12-of-22 from three-point range. They outrebounded the Peacocks 36-30 and finished with 20 assists against just ten turnovers.
Saint Peter’s was held to 22-of-60 from the field and seven-of-19 from three. The Peacocks also finished with ten assists to go with ten turnovers.
The Red Foxes return to the McCann Center on Monday night against Fairfield. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Edited by David Connelly