Sophomores Spark Marist’s Second Half Comeback Over Rider

For the second consecutive game, Rider made life very difficult on Marist, but the Red Foxes pulled away late for a 70-57 victory.

Marist ended Monday’s game on a 32-12 run and completed a sweep of the Broncs in the McCann Center.

“Down seven in the third quarter, things didn’t look good for us,” Marist Head Coach Brian Giorgis said after the game. “Allie Best got a steal and a basket, and Trinasia (Kennedy) scored to make it more manageable. Then, we had a great fourth quarter sparked by Trinasia and Julie Bonilla.”

Leading 55-50 with just under four minutes left, Marist found itself in a somewhat familiar position: in a close game in crunch time. The Red Foxes had positive memories from last afternoon’s close win and would have to put the finishing touches on another fourth-quarter comeback.

Surprisingly, it was Bonilla, the seldom-used sophomore who provided the early dagger, draining a three to make it 58-50 with 3:35 left.

“She was outstanding tonight,” Giorgis said of his second-year reserve. “She’s one of those kids that is always ready if we need a spark, and boy was she ready. She gave us energy and offense, but more importantly, she knew what the other team was doing.”

Bonilla’s long-distance call was Marist’s last field goal of the game, but the defense held Rider to two-of-seven shooting down the stretch, and the Red Foxes made 12 of their 16 late-game foul shots to secure the win.

Marist (12-2, 10-2 in the MAAC) hit 70 points for the first time since December 12 against Canisius. The Red Foxes shot 22-for-55 (40 percent) from the field and six-for-18 from three. The team shot 20-for-28 from the free-throw line, season-highs in both makes and attempts.

Marist won the rebounding battle 34-29 and moved the ball better, dishing 16 assists against 11 turnovers.

Trinasia Kennedy had a game-high 20 points, scoring 15 in the second half and helping fuel the comeback.

“I wasn’t hitting shots early, and I was getting in my head,” Kennedy said. “My coaches always tell me to stay resilient and have that next play mentality. I didn’t have that in the first half, but I knew if I played well on defense, it would create a spark on offense.”

The other Red Foxes in double-figures were Allie Best (14), Willow Duffell (13), and Sarah Barcello (12).

Bonilla ended with five points in 11 highly-productive minutes.

“Every day, I tell Julie to keep working because it can be tough if you’re not playing,” Kennedy said of her classmate. “Today, she came out and showed everybody that she could hang and stay motivated. I’m happy that she came in and did what she needed to do.”

Rider (5-16, 4-12 in the MAAC) showed vast improvement after an 0-8 start to the season. The Broncs shot 22-for-50 (44 percent) from the floor and seven-for-17 from long distance.

Mikayla Firebaugh scored a team-high 15. Daija Moses (12) and Victoria Toomey (11) were the other double-digit scorers for Rider.   

Early on, the teams were able to find the basket with more consistency earlier than yesterday’s contest. Rider led 15-14 after the first quarter, which was yesterday’s score heading into halftime. 

Moses banked in a three to stretch the Broncs’ advantage to four on the first possession of the second quarter. Marist’s motion offense finally appeared to run efficiently, with inside scoring from Barcello and Best keying a 9-0 run that gave the home team a 26-20 lead with just over four minutes in the half.

With Duffell and Weimar saddled with two fouls apiece, Rider took advantage, reeling off nine consecutive points for a 29-26 edge at the half. Though the Red Foxes had a much better scoring output in today’s first half, Rider’s run to end the first 20 minutes was indicative of just how much Marist relies on their top post players for stability on both ends.

Barcello immediately broke her team’s four-minute scoring drought with an easy layup on the first possession in the second half. The Broncs continued their solid offensive execution, and a Victoria Toomey layup capped a 10-4 run and put the Broncs up 39-32 midway through the third.

Despite solid minutes off the bench from Bonilla, it seemed like the Red Foxes could not find much momentum as a Moses jumper made it 45-38 Rider with two minutes left in the quarter.

Marist finally found the boost it needed when Allie Best stole the ball, took it to the hoop, and laid it in, cleverly drawing a foul on Firebaugh in the process. She completed the three-point play, and a pair of Kennedy free throws helped the Red Foxes cut the deficit to 45-43 with 10 minutes to play.

Kennedy made sure the momentum carried over into the fourth, hitting two consecutive threes to give Marist a 49-47 advantage with just over eight minutes left. The talented sophomore added a floater to make it 53-50 with 5:44 left.

The Red Foxes will be back in action for the “Route 9 Rivalry” against Siena. The series begins on Friday, February 12 with the teams scheduled to tip-off at 7 p.m. in Loudonville.

Edited by Mackenzie Meaney

Photo by Marist Athletics

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