Allie Best’s Career Night Gets Marist Over the Hump in Defensive Battle Against Manhattan

It was not pretty, but in a battle of two of the MAAC’s top defenses, Marist prevailed with a 52-44 victory inside McCann Arena on Saturday evening. The Red Foxes did not trail at any point during the game, but Manhattan kept things close and provided a stern challenge down the stretch.

Although her team had a tenuous 43-42 lead and she was only two-for-13 on the evening, Sarah Barcello kept shooting. She nailed a crucial three-pointer to give Marist a four-point lead with two minutes left. The defense held strong and Allie Best finished a driving layup to increase the lead to 48-42 with 42 seconds left. Trinasia Kennedy helped put the finishing touches on the victory by drawing a questionable-at-best offensive foul on Emily LaPointe on the next possession.

“It’s great to get a win over the pre-season number one,” said Marist head coach Brian Giorgis. “They’re an excellent team, and they play great defense, right now, our strength is our defense. I think the big difference was that Allie Best and Trinasia Kennedy, our guards stepped up down the stretch.”

The Red Foxes (6-1, 4-1 in the MAAC) only shot 18-for-61 (30 percent) from the field but did hit 9 of the 21 three-pointers they attempted. It was the second straight sub-par offensive effort for Marist, but the defense won the day, holding Manhattan to a near-identical, albeit slightly worse 18-for-62 mark from the field.

Best led all scorers, finishing with a career-high 17 points, adding eight rebounds and five assists to an impressive stat-line. Kennedy was the only other Red Fox in double-figures with 11.

“I’ve definitely been looking to help the team offensively a little more,” said Marist’s point, who leads the country with a 13-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. “I think I got a lot of open shots just through our offense, and I was able to knock them down today.”

Sarah Barcello, despite her timely shooting, continued to struggle to find the target. She had nine points on 3-of-14 shooting.

Caitlin Weimar and Willow Dufell finished with six and five points respectively, though they did combine for 19 rebounds. The Manhattan post duo of Courtney Warley and Pamela Miceus did a tremendous job of keeping the Marist bigs in check.

The Jaspers (5-4, 5-2 in the MAAC) got a team-high 11 points from Miceus. Warley notched a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Dee Dee Davis, the team’s leading scorer going into the game, did not manage to score.

“We’re going to go as far as our defense takes us,” Giorgis said. “We’ve got two great defensive guards in Trinasia Kennedy and Kendall Krick. To hold Dee Dee Davis to nothing and Gabby Cajou to one basket, that says a lot for us. When we struggle with offense, and we are going to struggle with offense at times this year, our defense is going to need to carry us.”

Marist came out of the gates quickly on an 8-0 run, sparked by threes from Best and Kennedy. The Red Foxes only shot five-for-16 from the field in the first ten minutes, but four of the makes were threes, and the home team led 16-10 after one quarter.

After Zaria Demember-Shazer connected on a transition layup to make it 21-12 Marist with just over seven minutes left in the first half, four minutes passed before either team scored again.

The Jaspers dealt with considerable foul trouble. Warley, along with other starters Pamela Miceus and Gabby Cajou, picked up two fouls, and Manhattan head coach Heather Vulin had to go deeper into her bench.

The Jaspers missed 13 consecutive shots at one point in the second quarter, but the Red Foxes failed to capitalize. LaPointe hit a three to bring Manhattan’s deficit down to 24-19 at halftime. The teams combined to make the second ten minutes a total brickfest, joining efforts to shoot seven-for-39 (18 percent).

The lid looked like it was slowly coming off the basket for Marist when Duffell hit a three to give her team a 29-23 lead. Barcello got two point-blank looks at layups on consecutive possessions but missed them both, and Jaspers scored off both missed opportunities to make it 29-27 halfway through the quarter.

The Red Foxes’ offense finally began to pick up the pace though, scoring on three consecutive trips, including another three from Best. Manhattan hung tough, with a bucket from Miceus, bringing the score back to 36-31, but Barcello found herself wide-open under the basket with just over 20 seconds and did not miss, giving Marist a seven-point lead with ten minutes to play.

The Jaspers continued to play hard, and their defense held Marist scoreless for the first 4:15 of the fourth, and a Warley layup capped a 7-0 run that tied the game at 38. After Duffell headed to the bench with her fourth foul and forced Sam Bailey into some late-game action, Kennedy converted finished a traditional three-point play to give the Red Foxes a 43-40 advantage with just under five minutes left.

The teams will resume their series tomorrow inside McCann. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Edited by Nicholas Stanziale

Featured Image from Marist Athletics

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