Marist Will Have to Shake off the Rust as It Prepares to Renew Rivalry with Quinnipiac

After nearly three long weeks, the Marist Red Foxes will finally appear on the court again this weekend to play the Quinnipiac Bobcats. The series marks Marist’s first action since the program went on hiatus after an official from last month’s game against Albany tested positive for COVID-19. 

Now, with the season seemingly back on track, for now at least, Brian Giorgis and his team look to take control of the MAAC while Quinnipiac looks to carry their momentum from their last victory over Manhattan to beat an undefeated Marist team. 

Who, What, When, and Where?

Marist (4-0, 2-0 MAAC) vs Quinnipiac (3-3, 1-1 MAAC)

Dates: Sunday, January 3 and Monday, January 4

Location: People’s United Center, Hamden, CT

TV: Sunday ESPN3, Monday ESPN+, both games tip-off at 3 p.m.

Series History: Quinnipiac leads 12-6

Current Streak: After losing nine in a row to the Quinnipiac, Marist swept the Bobcats last season

Last Game: Marist won 64-51 in Hamden on February 29, 2020

Red Foxes’ Keys to Victory:

After an extended break, it is easy for a team to get a bit rusty. If Marist hopes to win both games against Quinnipiac, they will have to shake off that rust early. The best way to do this is by playing dominantly in the paint, which has proven to be their greatest strength all season. To do this, they will have to rely on players like Willow Duffell and Caitlin Weimar, who secured double-doubles in separate games against Albany and Canisius. 

While Marist’s high-powered offense tries to score, they will also have to limit turnovers. The Red Foxes usually do a good job taking care of the ball, but it will take on extra importance for Marist this week, especially coming off the pause. In their last victory, Quinnipiac was able to capitalize on Manhattan’s mistakes in both games by putting up a combined 38 points off of turnovers. If the Bobcats can put the ball in the net after turnovers with the same efficiency that they had against Manhattan, Marist may find themselves in trouble pretty quickly. 

Red Fox to Watch:

In her last two games, Zaria Demember-Shazer has been quite the difference-maker for the Red Foxes, shooting over 65 percent and averaging 13 points, five rebounds, and a block in those games. She will be asked to help defend Quinnipiac’s forwards, including Mikala Morris. If Demember-Shazer can continue to play at this level or even potentially improve, she will be a force in the back-to-back matchup against Quinnipiac.

Bobcats’ Keys to Victory:

Much like the Red Foxes, Quinnipiac will also have to find a way to hit a groove early, as they have not played a game since December 19th. The best way they could do this is by scoring early and often while giving Marist as few opportunities as possible to score second-chance points. The best way to do this would be to attack the paint, an area where Marist has proven to be especially potent. Stopping players like Weimar and Duffell, or perhaps getting them in foul trouble in this area of the court, where they have consistently found ways to give their team another chance to score, will be crucial if Quinnipiac hopes to win. 

Quinnipiac will also have to find a way to shoot more efficiently from the perimeter. In their win over Manhattan, Quinnipiac shot a horrendous 19% from the three-point line. To win, Quinnipiac will either have to get more production from shooters like Rose Caverly and Sajada Bonner or heavily rely on scoring in the paint.

Bobcat to Watch:

I would imagine that, in these two upcoming games, that Quinnipiac will play through forward/center Mikala Morris. The sophomore has been a difference-maker for the Bobcats this season, finishing three games with a double-double. One of these double-doubles came in the last matchup against Manhattan and Courtney Warley, perhaps the best defensive player in the conference. Morris scored 25 points, secured 17 rebounds, swatted three shots, and stole the ball twice against the Jaspers. All of these stats were single-game career highs for Morris. If she can play with the same type of efficiency against Marist, she will be an absolute nightmare. 

Prediction:

I think Marist is going to come away with both wins over the weekend. Despite the pause, I think they will play at the same level that they have all season. Sure, stopping a player like Mikala Morris may be a threat, but so are other Bobcat players like Mackenzie DeWees and Caverly, who are both double-digit scorers. Marist’s top-15 scoring defense will need to compensate with strong efforts from Duffell, Weimar, and the rest of the team. Beating an opponent like Quinnipiac would allow Marist to get their season back on track and put them one step closer to taking control of the MAAC.

Edited by Jonathan Kinane

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