The Red Foxes played their first game in McCann Arena since March 4 as they defeated Binghamton 64-60 and sit two games above .500 for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
A thrilling Marist win on Saturday set the table for a potential sweep of the Bearcats in the Sunday evening contest. It previews the reality of this year’s MAAC scheduling of games on back-to-back days against the same opponents as well as the adjustments in game plan that comes in the second meeting of the weekend.
“When you get the first win, you’re feeling pretty good about yourself,” said Dunne. “And you know they’re going to come in with more of a focused intensity since they are coming off a loss. We’re going to try to get into a rhythm of figuring out day two.”
The first half yielded an even battle where no lead grew to bigger than six points. That six-point lead was created by Binghamton and was immediately halted by a 10-0 run by the Red Foxes, one that featured all ten points being scored by newcomers. Marist took a narrow 30-28 lead into the break.
“Second half, I thought our intensity was a lot better,” said Dunne. “I thought we got into a rhythm of the game against their zone by going with some ball screens and letting our guards play a little bit and get some cutting off the ball. It was a great team win.”
Tommy Dempsey’s squad continued to battle but were never able to tie the game in the second half. A late run fell short after the visitors got within two and had a go-ahead three with 13 seconds left fall short from sophomore forward Bryce Beamer. Two timely free throws from senior guard Michael Cubbage sealed the victory for Marist. The win marks the first time the Red Foxes have started a season 2-0 since the 2001-02 season.
“We’ve got a long way to go with some of these turnovers and late-game decisions,” said Dunne. “There’s a lot of things on the defensive end we have to really clean up if we’re going to make a serious run in our league. We know that. But we feel that we have a high ceiling though and we know we’re not anywhere near where we’re going to get to when this is said and done.”
The newcomers were once again the story of Marist’s victory as the quartet of newbie players combined for 33 points in the victory. Junior guard Raheim Sullivan led the way with 13 points, followed by 11 from freshman guard Ricardo Wright, and six from freshman guard Hakim Byrd.
“We have a nice balance now,” said Dunne. “We’ve got some shooting, we’ve got some playmaking, we’ve got some guys who can throw it to in the post and I think we have good balance.”
Marist center Jordan Jones anchored the paint with 12 points, six rebounds, and three blocks in 29 minutes of play. It was a key bounce-back game for the senior after fouling out with just two points and 19 minutes of play on Saturday night.
“The recovery after game one was really important for game two,” said Jones. “I wanted to come out better than I did yesterday. [Thomas] Bruce is a good player, and I knew he would come out with more energy than he did yesterday, so I feel like I just had to match that.”
The Bearcats found their scoring from sophomore guard Brenton Mills and senior center Thomas Bruce. Mills led the way for the second straight night with 19 points on seven-for-11 shooting and seven rebounds. Bruce contributed 12 points and four blocks in the defeat.
“Clearly we have things we have to clean up, learn how to hold onto some of these wins and play a little tighter down the stretch,” said Dunne. “But I’m happy for the guys.”
Marist will travel to Buffalo to take on Canisius and begin conference play this Friday night. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m.
Edited By Nicholas Stanziale