For the second consecutive evening, Marist gritted and ground their way to a close victory over Manhattan, defeating the Jaspers 50-46 on Sunday inside the McCann Center. The triumph came even though the Red Foxes’ leading scorer Sarah Barcello missed the game with a leg injury suffered the previous game.
“These guys never cease to amaze me,” Said Marist head coach Brian Giorgis. “We found out our leading scorer was out, but it was next man up. We got some great play from different people, and our defense really carried us in the first half. They made some adjustments to come back and take the lead, but Willow Duffell came up big down the stretch.”
Duffell hit a 17-foot jumper to put Marist up 45-44 with 90 seconds left after the Red Foxes saw their 15-point second-half lead evaporate before their eyes. Manhattan’s Dee Dee Davis responded with two free throws to give her team the edge. On the next Marist possession, Duffell cleaned the offensive glass with an elbow jumper to make it 47-46 Red Foxes.
With the Jaspers looking to retake the lead with under a minute left, an inadvertent whistle blew in Marist’s favor. A loose ball caused a scrum, with Allie Best and Manhattan’s Sini Makela diving on the floor. Makela was ruled out of bounds, even though the replay showed she was not. Although the officials realized the mistake, the ball still went to Marist because they had the possession arrow in their favor. Duffell capitalized on the good fortune, taking the ball to the hoop, drawing a foul, and finishing with under 10 seconds left. She converted the traditional three-point play to seal the game.
“I wasn’t hitting shots for most of the game, but I knew I had to keep doing what I was doing on defense and within the offense,” The senior forward said. “When the opportunity presented itself I knew I had to take it. It’s different this year because last year, we had Rebekah (Hand), Alana (Gilmer), and Grace (Vander Weide). Now Allie (Best) and I are in this new exciting position where we’re the ones people look to.”
Marist (7-1, 5-1 in the MAAC) got a team-high 11 from Trinasia Kennedy, and Duffell added a double-double with 10 and 10, saving her best for the closing minutes. Forwards Zaria Demember-Shazer and Sam Bailey combined for 15 points off the bench.
“Sam can play,” Giorgis said. “The freshmen may be a little more talented, but Sam’s more experienced. She understands the types of things that we want. After the first game yesterday when the younger players got taken to school by an experienced squad, we decided to give her a little more time today.”
Four-time MAAC Rookie of the Week Caitlin Weimar only finished with four points in just 14 minutes.
The Red Foxes improved their shooting from the last two games, going 19-for-52 (37 percent) from the field and six-for-17 from three. They struggled with turnovers, matching 15 assists with an equal number of giveaways.
Davis equaled Kennedy’s game-high output with 11 for Manhattan (5-5, 5-3 in the MAAC). Pamela Miceus was the only other Jasper in double-figures with 10. The all-MAAC trio of Courtney Warley, Gabby Cajou, and Emily LaPointe only managed to combine for 12 points. Manhattan could not crack the 30 percent mark from the floor for the second straight night, going 17-for-62 overall and four-for-24 from long range. They out-rebounded Marist 43-35 but failed to make the extra possessions as significant as they could have been.
Without their leading scorer, it seemed like the Red Foxes might have had more difficulty getting things going on offense, but it was the Jaspers that struggled mightily with putting the ball in the basket. Manhattan started one-for-16 from the field and endured an eight-minute scoring drought. A Krick floater to beat the buzzer gave Marist a 16-5 lead after the first quarter.
Emily LaPointe canned a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 18-13 in the early second quarter. Marist responded with a run keyed by Bailey, who was thrust into action with Weimar on the bench in foul trouble. She drained a three and hit some free throws as part of an extended 10-0 Red Foxes spurt to end the half. The Jaspers found some open looks but could not convert. Remarkably LaPointe’s three was the last Manhattan score in a half where they had two prolonged cold spells. Marist could have done more on the offensive end but held their opponent to five-for-33 (15 percent) shooting in the half and took a 28-13 lead into the locker room.
The Jaspers made some halftime adjustments and started getting the ball inside, promptly breaking their drought. Warley hit a layup to cut the Marist advantage to 30-20, but Allie Best responded with the first five points of the night to get the lead back to 15.
Manhattan, like they did yesterday, continued to hang around. The Jaspers went to a full-court press with Warley at the point that forced Marist into some turnovers. Davis, who was scoreless yesterday, began to percolate at the end of the quarter and hit two mid-range jumpers that helped bring the deficit down to 40-33 with ten minutes left.
Both teams opened the final stretch on a nearly three-minute scoring drought. Sini Makela stole a Weimar pass and finished the transition layup to make it a five-point at the seven-minute mark. On the other end, Kennedy answered back with a three to make it 43-35. Manhattan answered with seven straight, punctuated by a Warley steal and layup that made it 43-42 with 3:40 left. The Red Foxes continued to struggle with turnovers, and a Gabby Cajou layup made it a 9-0 run and gave the Jaspers their first lead with just under three minutes left.
Barcello’s status for next weekend’s series at Fairfield is up in the air. Her presence would surely give Marist a lift in their two biggest games of the season. Tip-off for game one against the stags is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, January 15 at Alumni Hall.
Edited by Mackenzie Meaney
Photo by Marist Athletics