Despite an almost three-week layoff due to COVID-19, it was business as usual for the Red Foxes as they rolled to a 69-50 road win over Quinnipiac on Sunday afternoon. Marist has now won 17 consecutive games dating back to late January 2020, and today’s victory was their third in a row over the Bobcats.
“That’s a good team right there,” Marist head coach Brian Giorgis said of Quinnipiac. “Forcing 23 turnovers and 11 steals isn’t really what we do, but the defense played great, and everybody played well.’
The Red Foxes only trailed for 16 seconds during the game, which came after Quinnipiac’s first possession. The defense forced 23 turnovers, and when the offense needed to step up in the later stages of the game, Sarah Barcello made sure it did.
Barcello set a new career-high and led all scorers with 25 points, coming up with 13 in a row in the fourth quarter. She was an efficient nine-of-15 from the floor.
Willow Duffell had 13 points and nine rebounds, and her fellow post player Caitlin Weimar notched her second career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Both players helped keep Quinnipiac’s star forward Mikala Morris in check and forced the Bobcats into many of those 23 turnovers.
Allie Best turned in a new-career high of 11 assists against no turnovers, improving her assist-to-turnover ratio to 32-to-1, the highest mark in the country.
“What makes these kids special is that they have done everything we have asked of them,” said Giorgis. “We’re not going to complain about a lack of practices this year. Today we had a lot of different people step up, whether it was Sarah (Barcello) getting us some baskets or Allie Best dishing out 11 assists.”
As a team, Marist (5-0, 3-0 in the MAAC) shot 26-for-69 (38 percent) from the field and six-for-19 from three-point range. They finished 11-for-14 from the free-throw line and outrebounded the Bobcats 38-34.
Quinnipiac (3-4, 1-2 in the MAAC) got a team-high 14 from Mackenzie DeWees. Cur’tiera Haywood was the only other Bobcat in double-digits with 11. Morris, who had 25 points and 17 rebounds in the last game against Manhattan, managed only three points on one-for-eight shooting.
“We were able to double her and force her into some turnovers, and when she was open she wasn’t able to hit,” Giorgis said of the strategy against Morris. “I thought the entire defense stepped up because we trusted the scouting report and trusted what we do.”
The Bobcats shot 15-for-42 (36 percent) from the field and 17-for-20 from the foul line. Their struggles handling the ball meant they attempted 27 fewer shots than the Red Foxes. Quinnipiac surrendered 17 offensive rebounds and finished with only five assists, compared to 15 helpers from Marist.
The Red Foxes showed no signs of rust in the opening stanza. Duffell got off to a quick start from the floor and the Marist defense forced seven early Quinnipiac turnovers, helping the away team take a 16-9 lead after ten minutes.
The Bobcats, who were also coming off a long layoff, continued to struggle with keeping control of the ball. Every Quinnipiac possession ended with a turnover or missed shot and it took until the 4:17 mark of the quarter for DeWees to secure the Bobcats’ first field goal.
Marist’s offense was not the well-oiled machine fans are familiar with, but it did capitalize on Quinnipiac’s giveaways. Trinasia Kennedy hit a three to stretch the lead to 28-12 with under three minutes in the half. The Bobcats did manage to find some rhythm on the offensive end, but a Barcello layup off a nice feed from Allie Best put the Red Foxes up 32-19 heading into the half. Quinnipiac’s 14 first-half turnovers allowed Marist to hoist 37 shots, compared to just 24 for the Bobcats.
As they did a few weeks ago against Manhattan, Quinnipiac went to a press at the beginning of the third quarter. It did not do much as Allie Best hit a three after a Duffell offensive rebound to make it a 16-point lead. The Bobcats did make a much more concerted effort to get the ball inside. The strategy did not immediately lead to field goals, but they did get to the charity stripe. The Bobcats made their first nine free throw attempts of the quarter and cut the Marist lead to 37-30. At a key juncture in the game, the Red Foxes scored the next seven points. Kennedy connected on a layup to get the lead back up to 16 at 48-32 with under a minute left in the quarter. Caverly converted a layup on the other end to make it a 14-point contest heading into the fourth.
Cur’Tiera Haywood nailed a three for Quinnipiac to bring the deficit down to nine with nine minutes left to play. After Sajada Bonner hit a pair of free throws to make it 51-41, Sarah Barcello set to work delivering a deadly right-left combination for Marist. She hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions to make it 57-41 with under six minutes left. After a Bonner three, the junior from Chandler, Arizona came up with three more, this time in the traditional manner. Two more layups made it 13 in a row for Barcello, stretched the lead back to 16 at 64-48, and secured a smooth ride to victory for the Red Foxes.
Marist and Quinnipiac will be back in the People’s United Center for the second leg of their series tomorrow, January 4. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.
Edited by Mackenzie Meaney
Photo by Mike Cahill