Marist earned their fifth conference victory of the season by defeating the Stags 73-63 on Friday night. The team has now won seven games this season, which equals their total from a year ago.
After losing both games against Monmouth last week, Head Coach John Dunne and his team were extremely motivated going into this matchup with Fairfield.
“I thought we had a great urgency and focus about us this week,” Dunne said about the team’s preparation.
The Red Foxes were down by as much as seven in the first half, but their defensive intensity made things difficult for the Stags. After giving up 18 points in the first ten minutes of the game, the offense for Fairfield began to slow down.
Blocking shots and creating turnovers allowed Marist to get out in transition and create easy looks on the offensive end. The Red Foxes went into halftime with a 42-30 lead, which was their most points in a first half this season.
Fairfield looked to close the gap in the early stretches of the second half, but Marist responded every time. The Stags got the lead down to as low as nine, but the Red Foxes got baskets when they needed them most.
Going into this game, one of the biggest question marks I had revolved around the impact of Jordan Jones and Victor Enoh. Fairfield lacked the size and physically in order to contain both big men, and it showed in the box score. The pair combined for 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the field along with seven rebounds and five blocks.
“Sometimes it’s a little harder to get them touches, but we definitely had a focus about us getting the ball inside,” Dunne said. “When you do that, it does open things up for the perimeter as well.”
One positive sign for Marist was their ability to knock down shots from the perimeter. The team really struggled to shoot from the outside in their second matchup with Monmouth, but that certainly changed tonight.
Marist went 9/22 from behind the line, including three threes from junior forward Braden Bell. If the team can continue to create open looks from behind the arc, it can go a long way for their offense as we move through the rest of the season.
Another big storyline coming out of this game revolves around inserting Javon Cooley into the starting lineup. Coach Dunne gave the freshman his first start against Niagara on January 2nd, and he has been a part of the starting five ever since.
The 6-foot-5 forward was only averaging 1.3 points per game prior to being placed into the starting five. Cooley contributed on both ends of the floor against the Stags, scoring eight points on 3/6 shooting along with having two blocks.
“He’s shooting the ball really well and he’s figuring out these cuts behind the plays,” coach Dunne said about Cooley getting comfortable over the last couple of games.
Turnovers have been a constant issue for the Red Foxes through the first ten games of the season, but they did a much better job with that against Fairfield. The team only committed eight turnovers tonight, which was a season low. If the ball handlers for Marist can continue to have a good assist to turnover ratio, it will be huge for the success of the team.
Marist will return to conference play at 5 p.m. tomorrow, January 16, where they once again face off against the Fairfield Stags at McCann Arena in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Edited by Nicholas Stanziale
Feature Image from Marist Athletics