Marist suffered defeat for the third time in four games against Fairfield in a 55-52 loss on Saturday night. The Red Foxes nearly completed a double-digit comeback but fell short in the final seconds as they end up splitting the weekend series with the Stags.
“We had to play a little bit better team basketball,” said head coach John Dunne. “That’s why we won yesterday, and I don’t think we played good enough as a group today.”
The weekend series against Fairfield offered a largely different challenge for the Red Foxes as Fairfield ranks just 309th in the country in tempo, a long gap from previous opponent Monmouth who sits at second in the nation. Marist entered hoping to complete its third weekend sweep of the season and remain ahead of Saint Peter’s and Canisius in the MAAC standings.
A strong start to the game gave the Red Foxes a 10-3 advantage in the opening of the contest. It was a sudden momentum shift when Fairfield responded with a 29-8 run of their own and would take a 33-26 lead into the half. For the second time in three games, Marist failed to convert on a three-pointer in the first half.
“At times, we settled and it didn’t work,” said Dunne. “Sometimes you have to pass up a good shot to get a great shot and we didn’t do that today. We just didn’t move the ball enough today.”
The team’s first make from beyond the arc didn’t come until the 8:33 mark of the second half on their 15th attempt when Matt Herasme knocked one down from the left wing. A 13-2 run late in the second half brought the Red Foxes within one with just 8.5 seconds to play. An intentional foul from Marist on Fairfield’s Taj Benning sent him to the line as he calmly buried two free throws for the Stags to extend their lead to three. The late push from the Red Foxes fell just short as a Ricardo Wright three clanked off of the rim in the final seconds to keep Marist from completing the comeback.
“We’re not going to quit and just roll over when we’re not playing our best basketball,” said Dunne. “Our older guys like Jordan, Matt, Braden, and Victor, I just love coaching them. As a group, we’ve all got to learn from that.”
Marist was led once again by senior center Jordan Jones who poured in 17 points on seven-for-10 shooting from the field. Raheim Sullivan pitched in with ten points as the lone Red Foxes to tally double figures. John Dunne’s squad shot three or 20 from the perimeter and are now a combined 15-for-69 in their last three games.
“The coaches always tell me, whenever I catch the ball, to be patient,” said Jones. “Seeing my options is one thing I have been trying to focus on.”
Jake Wojcik was the leading scorer for the Stags as the junior guard notched 12 points for Jay Young’s squad. Wojcik was joined by Caleb Green and Taj Benning in double digits with 11 and ten on the night.
“We’ve got to learn how to keep great spirit when things aren’t going our way,” said Dunne. “We just have to grow as a group.”
Marist falls to 7-5 on the season and 5-5 in the MAAC with Saturday’s loss.
The Red Foxes will have a rare weekday game as they will host Quinnipiac in the McCann Center on Wednesday, January 27. Tip-off is at 5:00 p.m.
Edited by Nicholas Stanziale
Feature Image from Marist Athletics