Marist passed its toughest test of the young season, defeating in-state rival Albany 67-48 inside the McCann Center on Tuesday afternoon. The Red Foxes have won their first four games of the season, and the last 16 contests they have played in, dating back to last year. The 19-point margin of victory broke a streak of three 20-point plus wins for the Red Foxes.
After struggling to score in the first quarter, Marist went back to its bread and butter; low post scoring. The Red Foxes outscored their opponent 58-35 after the first ten minutes. Forwards Caitlin Weimar, Zaria Demember-Shazer, and Willow Duffell all scored in double-figures. The Red Foxes outscored the Great Danes 42-18 in the paint and 17-4 on second-chance opportunities.
“I’m very pleased with the performance today,” said Marist head coach Brian Giorgis. “We seemed to pick it up and do the right things in the second half. This team has a lot of length, and it really seems to bother people.”
Weimar earned her first career double-double, finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds. She picked up three blocks.
“All the upperclassmen have been extremely helpful in taking us through the offense and defense,” said Weimar, the two-time MAAC Rookie of the Week. “The focus has been on working hard and staying safe, and they have been there for us every step of the way.”
Weimar’s fellow freshmen, Demember-Shazer, matched her teammate with 14 points, a new career-high. She shot an efficient six-for-eight from the floor, including two three-pointers on two attempts.
“We’ve got a double-edged sword with these two,” Giorgis said of his freshmen forwards. “Caitlin has great length, and Zaria gives us a ball of energy. Over the last couple of days, she’s seemed more relaxed. She’s not going a hundred miles an hour like she was in the first game. I get excited not just about this season but about the coming years. They’re going to be a terrific duo.”
Sarah Barcello had 13 for the Red Foxes, and Duffell and Trinasia Kennedy each had 10, to make it five Marist players in double-digits.
The Red Foxes (4-0) shot above 50 percent for the second consecutive game, going 29-for-54 (54 percent) from the field and six-for-14 from beyond the arc. They won the rebounding battle 34-26 and finished with 20 assists against 15 turnovers.
Albany (1-2) came into the game off a 71-66 win at Seton Hall, a member of the Big East. Helene Haegerstrand and Ellen Hahne both starred in the upset win, but both players were held well below their season averages by the Marist defense. Hahne was Albany’s leading scorer with 12 points. As a team, the Great Danes slumped to a 15-for-47 (31 percent) performance from the floor and also finished with 15 turnovers.
“Willow (Duffell) and Zaria (Demember-Shazer) did a great job on (Haegerstrand, who had 26 against Seton Hall) today, especially in the second half,’ said Giorgis. “We made sure to get out and contest her three-point shots because we left her open a few times in the first half.”
Both teams struggled with turnovers in the early minutes, but six Marist giveaways put the Red Foxes in a 13-9 hole after ten minutes.
In the second quarter, Marist made a concerted effort to score down low through their bigs. Two Weimar post scores tied the game at 13, and a Duffell layup gave the Red Foxes their first lead of the game with seven-and-a-half minutes left in the first half. After the Great Danes regained the advantage on a Decortes jumper, the Marist defense clamped down and held Albany with a field goal for the last four minutes of the half. A three-point play from Trinasia Kennedy and long-range shots from Barcello and Zaria Demember-Shazer helped the Red Foxes take a 27-23 to the intermission.
After holding Albany below 30 percent shooting in the first half, the Marist defense continued to get stops and force turnovers, which keyed a strong start to the third quarter. Barcello scored her team’s first five points of the half to make it 32-25, and Demember-Shazer hit another three to stretch the advantage to 38-27. Kendall Krick came up with a steal and a layup, and moments later, she scored again on a terrific feed from Duffell. A Weimar layup finished the scoring in the third and made the score 48-29, capping a 21-6 run that spanned the quarter for the Red Foxes. The Great Danes only managed to shoot two-for-11 and turned it over seven times, as they saw their chances of winning slip away.
Albany began employing a full-court press, hoping to force Marist back into some sloppy play. The Red Foxes handled the press with ease, not allowing the Great Danes to come any closer than a 16-point deficit. The dagger came when Albany forgot to box out on a Kennedy free throw, and Duffell cleaned the glass for a 62-41 lead with under four minutes left.
Marist will face one of their biggest challenges this weekend when they head down to Fairfield to play a two-game series with the Stags at Alumni Hall. The first game of the back-to-back is scheduled for Friday, December 18 with tip-off set for 7 p.m.
Edited by Mackenzie Meaney
Photo by Marist Athletics