Marist earned its 10th victory of the season and completed the sweep of Niagara after dispatching the Purple Eagles 67-45 at the Gallagher Center just outside of Buffalo.
With the win, Brian Giorgis is now 35-6 against Niagara, and his teams have won 13 consecutive road games against the Purple Eagles.
The Red Foxes halved their turnovers from last night, giving the ball away 14 times, down from 28 in yesterday’s overtime affair. Conversely, Marist forced Niagara into 24 turnovers and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, outscoring the Purple Eagles 14-0 on second-chance points.
“We played much better tonight,” Giorgis said. “We didn’t try to force things against their pressure, and when we did turn the ball over it wasn’t leading to easy transition baskets for them. We cut down on our turnovers which allowed us to get some more shots, even if the threes weren’t falling.”
Despite only shooting two for 17 from the perimeter, the Red Foxes dominated inside, scoring 44 points in the paint and keeping their opponent at arm’s length before pulling away late in the game.
Caitlin Weimar had a career-high 19 on eight-for-13 shooting to lead her team in the victory. She added 11 rebounds, notching her third double-double of the season.
“Every game it seems to be some different stepping up for us,” Giorgis continued. “Yesterday it was Willow (Duffell), today it was Caitlin. She gave us good minutes when Willow went out with foul trouble and kept it up for the rest of the game.”
After rough first games, Triniasia Kennedy finished with 11, and Allie Best added 10 points and seven assists.
Willow Duffell scored all of her nine points in the second half after getting into foul trouble in the early going.
Zaria Demember-Shazer, Anabel Ellison, Emma Wax, and Sam Bailey all chipped with bench points for the Red Foxes.
“I can’t say enough about our bench today. We got good minutes from pretty much everyone which helped have a good fourth quarter, which has really been our trouble spot.”
Marist (10-2, 8-2 in the MAAC) shot 28-for-64 (44 percent) from the field and out-rebounded the Purple Eagles 36-27.
Niagara (1-3, 1-3) went 16-for-41 (39 percent) from the floor and two-for-12 from long distance.
Sydney Faulcon came off the bench to lead the Purple Eagles with 14 points. Angel Parker, who was a menace in the open-court, finished with 13.
“They are not a 10th place team,” Giorgis said of Niagara’s pre-season MAAC poll position. “They play as hard as anyone in this league, and we’re seeing that you have to bring your A-game every night or risk losing.”
Marist could not afford the same slow start that befell them in yesterday’s game. The Red Foxes did a much better job getting the ball into the paint and jumped out to a 10-2 run in the first four minutes. The Purple Eagles continued to hang tough and cut Marist’s lead to 17-16 after ten minutes.
Niagara took their only lead at 20-19 after Parker slashed the basket for a layup. The Red Foxes countered with their six-foot-four freshman, who became the focal point of the offense after Duffell went to the bench with two fouls. Weimar missed a few easy looks but reached double-figures in the scoring column after converting three consecutive layups to put her team in front 25-20 with 5:44 left in the half.
Marist extended the lead to 32-23 after two textbook fastbreaks between Kennedy and Anabel Ellison, each scoring on one and assisting on the other. The Red Foxes failed to really twist the knife before halftime, and the Purple Eagles made it 36-29 at the break when Haar made three free-throws after getting hit on a long-distance attempt.
Both teams struggled from three-point range in the first half, hitting only one each and combining to go two-for-18.
After sitting out most of the first half, Duffell immediately made her presence known, finishing a three-point play to boost the lead to 10. Niagara’s Maddy Yelle hit a three to cut the lead down to 41-36, but Marist responded with the next five, including a Kennedy three.
Inside scoring from Duffell and Weimar stretched the lead to 50-38, but Parker hit a buzzer-beating, momentum-maintaining three to make it a nine-point game with ten minutes left.
Both teams struggled with turnovers in the early minutes of the fourth. Over two-and-a-half minutes passed before either team could break the seal. The Red Foxes knew they could not allow the Purple Eagles back into the game as they did the night before. Marist scored the first five points of the quarter, with a Best three-point play stretching it to 55-41 with seven minutes left.
The Red Foxes handled Niagara’s pressure defense, and more scoring from Weimar and Duffell proved to be the knockout punch, making it 61-43 with just over three minutes left.
Marist will return to the McCann Center next weekend against Rider. The series against the Broncs kicks off on Friday, with tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m.
Edited by Mackenzie Meaney
Photo by Marist Athletics