Marist defeated the reigning regular season champion Siena Saints 55-54 on Saturday afternoon. This is the program’s first victory over Siena since the 2017-2018 season.
Both teams struggled to score in the early going, but defensive intensity allowed the Red Foxes to get some good looks in transition. The Saints trailed for over 17 minutes of the first half, as the lead grew to as much as 12 for Marist.
Excellent first-half defense on Jalen Pickett and Manny Camper gave the Red Foxes a ton of confidence. The duo that was selected in the preseason All-MAAC First Team struggled early in this game, shooting a combined zero-for-11 from the field and zero-for-7 from three in the opening half.
“We had great energy, and we didn’t give them a ton of open looks,” head coach John Dunne said about the team’s defense.
Rahiem Sullivan led all scorers with eight points in the first half, and Marist was up 27-22 at halftime.
Siena continued to struggle getting their two best players involved on the offensive end, but the baskets eventually came. The first points for Camper came with 15:55 left in the second half, as he connected on a three-pointer to cut the Marist lead to just three. Over three minutes later, Pickett got his first bucket of the game on a jumper near the free throw line.
Marist began to struggle on the offensive end, and the Saints took their first lead of the game with 9:52 left in the second half following a three-pointer from freshman guard Aidan Carpenter. For the rest of the game, the lead for either team never got above five points.
After struggling for a majority of the game, Ricardo Wright had the ball in his hands with the Red Foxes trailing by five with over two minutes remaining. On the ensuing possession, the freshman from Eustis, Florida connected on a three from the top of the key, forcing coach Maciariello to call a timeout.
A turnover from the Saints gifted the Red Foxes a chance to tie the game with under a minute to go. Wright came off a screen at the top of the key, knocking down a three-pointer with Siena guard Jordan King draped all over him.
“I stayed composed, walked into an open shot and knocked it down,” Wright said.
The Saints missed a three-pointer on their next possession, giving the Red Foxes a chance to ice the game at the free-throw line. Wright stepped up to the charity stripe for his first shot in a one and one situation, but misfired. Coach Maciariello called a timeout to draw up a quality look for his team.
With 9.1 seconds left in the game, the Saints were down 55-54 with possession of the ball. If the play was designed for him, Pickett would have an opportunity to recreate the same game-winning shot he had at McCann Arena last season.
Siena inbounded the ball to Stormo, and Pickett came off a screen to get the final shot. Jordan Jones found himself switched on the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year as he drove towards the middle of the floor. The Marist big man stayed with Pickett as he got into the paint, focing the guard to take a tough fall away jumper.
Jones did a fantastic job contesting, and the shot was off the mark. Both teams fought for the rebound as time expired, and Seina were unable to get a second look at the basket. Braden Bell was the first player to run to the bench as the Red Foxes celebrated the victory.
“I thought we came out ready to compete, execute, and share on offense,” Dunne said about the effort from his team.
Marist will return to conference play at 3 p.m. tomorrow, January 31, where they face the Siena Saints at McCann Arena in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Edited by Nicholas Stanziale