Marist returned to action and notched their first victory as they opened the 2020-21 season with a thrilling 68-65 overtime win over Binghamton. It’s the first time the Red Foxes have won season-opening games in back-to-back seasons since 2001-02 and 2002-03.
“Really excited to get a win,” said head coach John Dunne. “I like how we responded after they [Binghamton] tied the game up. I loved our resiliency in coming back and having confidence in the overtime to make some good plays.”
An eerie Binghamton Events Center was filled with just players, coaches, officials, trainers, and cardboard cutouts on Saturday afternoon as John Dunne and Tommy Dempsey met for the 17th time in their respective careers. It was the first game for the Red Foxes in 270 days and the first game for the Bearcats in 280.
It was a fast start out of the gates for Marist who jumped out to a 19-9 lead early and headed into the half with an 11-point advantage. A 17-3 run early in the second half helped Binghamton close a 14-point lead and ultimately tie the game at 42 with 9:50 left to play.
“We went through a lull there of not scoring for a while,” said Dunne. “I thought earlier in the game the ball was moving and we were scoring fairly effortlessly. I think we got a little fatigued and the ball stopped moving for a good part of the second half. Once we really get that ball moving and get in better shape, I think we’re going to be able to score the ball a little bit this year.”
The Foxes couldn’t separate themselves late in the second half and a controversial tip out of bounds call following a missed Binghamton free throw gave the Bearcats the ball down 60-57 with 1.1 seconds left and a chance to tie. A leaning three-pointer from Tyler Bertram as time expired swished through the net for the Bearcats and sent the game to overtime.
Four points from Victor Enoh including two crucial free throws with just two seconds left helped lift Marist over Binghamton in the extra frame.
“Last year, we lost a lot of games that got tight that way,” said Dunne. “When you’ve got a bunch of new guys that weren’t here last year, they’re not going to put their head down. It’s the first game of the year and we’re going to continue to learn, grow, and play with confidence.”
Redshirt senior guard Michael Cubbage established himself on the offensive end in a new role off the ball as he shot seven-for-12 from the field for a team-high 18 points. Junior forward Braden Bell also contributed 16 points along with eight rebounds. The Red Foxes shot an efficient 16-for-20 from the free throw line, a major step up from last year’s season overage of 64.8 percent.
“Last year, he was our only ball handler and now he’s out there and we’ve got other guys,” said Dunne. “Not having to be the primary ball handler, not having to feel like he’s got to make a play on every catch will help him relax a little bit and he can pick and choose when he tries to make plays. I thought he did a great job tonight driving it when the big gaps were there and not when they weren’t.”
Newcomers made quite an impact in the win for John Dunne’s squad. Freshman guard and Eustis, Florida native Ricardo Wright poured in 12 points in his debut. Memphis transfer Victor Enoh manned the paint with seven points along with a career-high 11 rebounds. It marks just the fourth time since the beginning of last season where a Marist player achieved double-digit rebounds.
“We’ve got some big bodies in our league and I think he’s going to be a really big rebounder for us,” said Dunne on Enoh. “If he can pull off double-digit rebounds when he’s splitting time, or even get close to that, I think that’s a major positive for us.”
For Binghamton, sophomore guard Brenton Mills led the way with 20 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Senior center Thomas Bruce made his return after sitting out for nearly 1,000 days following severe concussion symptoms in 2018. He reached a double-double with 14 points and ten rebounds.
Marist will return to the McCann Center for their home opener and take on the Bearcats once again tomorrow evening as the second leg of their home-and-home. Tip-off is at 4:00 p.m.
Edited By Nicholas Stanziale