Marist returns to conference play on Friday night, kicking off a weekend series against the 3-10 (3-7 in the MAAC) Rider Broncs. After splitting with Fairfield last weekend, the Red Foxes are back on the road looking for their fifth victory away from McCann Arena and their eighth triumph overall this season.
Last year, Marist struggled to a 7-24 record. This season, they have the chance to surpass that total in just their 13th game. If the Red Foxes come out victorious on Friday night, they’ll equal last year’s MAAC win total with six.
Rider currently sits down at ninth in the conference standings, but they’ve done a good job staying competitive in the early stages of the season.
Getting swept by the reigning regular-season champion Siena seemed about right, but the Broncs kept both games close towards the end of the second half, seeing victory slip away both times. Rider lost by a combined eleven points last weekend, proving this team can compete with the best teams in the MAAC.
The main man for the Broncs offensively is junior guard Dwight Murray, who joined the program following two seasons at Incarnate Word. He currently leads the team at 14.8 points per game on 42.4 percent shooting from the field and 41.9 percent from three-point range. Murray had a season-high 25 points against Siena on January 15.
Marist will also need to do a quality job containing Dontrell McQuarter. The 6-foot-7 guard has become a consistent secondary option alongside Murray, averaging 9.3 points per game on 39.7 percent shooting from the field. McQuarter has only attempted seven threes this season, so expect most of his offense to come inside the paint.
It will be interesting to see what coach Dunne does to limit the impact of McQuarter. Braden Bell and Javon Cooley will likely split time guarding the junior, as Matt Herasme is expected to assume the role of containing their leading scorer Murray.
Offensively, getting contributions for multiple players continues to be a recipe for success. Freshman guard Ricardo Wright leads Marist in scoring with 11 points per game, but the team has four other players who currently average seven or more points.
How well the team shoots from the outside will also be a big factor for the Red Foxes this weekend. Marist hit nine threes in a win over Fairfield, but only connected on three in a loss the next day. If the team can shoot a high percentage from behind the arc, it will give the Red Foxes every chance to win.
Marist and Rider are two teams that many expected to see near the bottom of the conference standings before the season. Going down to Lawrenceville will be a tall task for the Red Foxes, but I believe they will have enough offense to win a close game.
Score Prediction: Marist 67, Rider 64
Edited by Jonathan Kinane