In their first game in the McCann Center since March 7, Marist earned a 64-44 victory over Canisius in the MAAC opener for both teams. The win marked the 16th consecutive conference-opening win for the Red Foxes and their 14th straight victory overall.
Canisius came into the game reeling from an 87-45 loss against Buffalo on Sunday. The Golden Griffins only had nine players available, none of them taller than six-foot-one. The undermanned Griffs fought hard and led by five after ten minutes, but Marist’s size and depth allowed them to finish the game on a 51-26 run.
“We started slow, and a lot of it was our fault,” said Marist head coach Brian Giorgis. “We did a much better job defensively after the first quarter, but I was impressed with what Canisius did. They caused some problems for us, but eventually, we wore them down.”
The Red Foxes (2-0, 1-0 in the MAAC) got career-highs from Sarah Barcello (18) and Caitlin Weimar (17). It was the second consecutive double-digit scoring performance for both players. Willow Duffell and Zaria Demember-Shazer were the next highest scorers with eight points apiece. They were also Marist’s leading rebounders with 10 and seven boards respectively.
“Caitlin Weimar is tough on the boards, so is Willow (Duffell) and Zaria (Demember-Shazer),” said Giorgis. “When we crashed we caused some problems.”
Anndea Ziegler scored a team-high 14 on six-of-10 shooting for Canisius (0-2, 0-1 in the MAAC). Erika Joseph was the next highest-scoring Golden Griffin with seven. Highly-touted freshman Dani Haskell picked up two early fouls and only managed six points.
After starting last Saturday’s game against Army on an 11-0 run, the Red Foxes came out of the gates much slower against Canisius. The Golden Griffins got off to a 9-4 lead, limiting Marist in the paint, where the Red Foxes looked to press their advantage. The Red Foxes were a step slow with their closeouts on three-point shooters, allowing Canisius to shoot three-of-five from beyond the arc and lead 18-13 after ten minutes.
“Credit to Canisius for shooting the three so well,” said Giorgis. “They’re not known as a great shooting team other than (Haskell) but a couple of their players hit some threes when we were late closing out. We just had to get a little tougher defensively and push the ball.”
After a not-so-gentle reminder from Giorgis, Marist picked up their defensive effort. With star freshman Dani Haskell on the bench, the Golden Griffins only managed five points on two-of-12 shooting in the second stanza. The Red Foxes eventually began to warm up, and Weimar hit a jumper to tie things at 21. After a Ziegler jumper for Canisius, Kendall Krick hit a three to give Marist its first lead since 2-0. Barcello hit an elbow jumper in the final minute of the half for a 27-23 advantage going into the locker room.
The Red Foxes scored the last six points of the second half and continued the run on the other side of the break. Weimar scored two consecutive baskets on second-chance opportunities for a 31-23. Not to be outdone, her frontcourt mate Duffell scored in the paint and stepped out to hit a three to make it a 16-0 run and put her team up 14. At a point where the Griffins could have capitulated, they pulled themselves together. Ziegler hit another three to make it 37-28. After some more post scoring from Weimar, Ella Vaatanen hit a long-range jumper to cut the deficit to 45-36 heading into the final period.
Barcello connected on a layup on Marist’s first possession of the fourth quarter, and Trinasia Kennedy scored off her own miss to get the lead back up to 13. After a Duffell free-throw miss, Barcello grabbed the rebound and converted the putback for a 54-38 advantage. On the next possession, she hit a corner jumper and drew a foul in the process. She finished the conventional three-point play for a 19-point lead. Canisius was unable to find much of anything on offense, which allowed Giorgis to empty his bench with tomorrow’s game looming.
“I think it was a collective effort tonight,” said Barcello, the game’s leading scorer. “We just kept running and pushing the ball, which allowed us to get a spark and finish the game.”
Marist shot 26-of-59 (44 percent) from the field and four-of-15 (27 percent) from beyond the arc. The Red Foxes struggled mightily from the free-throw line, turning in an eight-of-20 performance, but redeemed themselves by out-rebounding the Griffs 49-26.
Canisius struggled from the floor after the first quarter, going 18-of-52 (34 percent) in total, but managing a seven-of-17 clip from three. The Griffs only got to the free-throw line four times and made just one attempt. They committed 14 turnovers against nine assists.
The teams will meet tomorrow evening in McCann for the second leg of the back-to-back. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Edited by Bridget Reilly