A dominant first half helped Marist take down Quinnipiac on Sunday night as they beat the Bobcats 76-67. The victory sealed a first-round bye for the Red Foxes in next week’s MAAC Tournament.
“It was probably our best team win,” said Marist head coach John Dunne. “Good execution, we were selfless and got open looks down the stretch. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Marist looked to clinch a first-round bye for the MAAC Tournament this weekend as the Foxes sit at 8-8, good for 4th in the conference with just two games to play. A split of the series against Quinnipiac would see Marist get a first-round bye in Atlantic City for the first time ever since the league’s new tournament format began in 2014.
It was a fast-paced tempo early on that had five combined threes and 18 points in the first 5:48 of play. Nine Red Foxes found the scoresheet in the first half as they took a 38-27 lead into the intermission. The Bobcats seemed flustered by the Marist defense as they shot just 24 percent from the field in the opening half.
The second half started off as more of the same with Marist freshman Ricardo Wright knocking down three three-pointers to open things up in the first 2:21. The Bobcats came storming back behind a flurry of points from Jacob Rigoni. The senior guard poured in 12 points in a five-and-a-half-minute run in the second half that brought Baker Dunleavy’s squad within seven at the midway point of the frame. The Red Foxes held on to the lead in the final minutes behind strong free throw shooting and improved to 11-8 to ensure their first winning season since 2008.
“We’ve just been taking it game by game, possession by possession,” said junior guard Matt Herasme. “In January, we weren’t worrying about March. We weren’t worrying about the standings. We were just trying to practice hard, get ready for the game, compete, and win. When you work hard every day and have good game plans, this is what happens. I’m happy for my team and I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Freshman guard Ricardo Wright led Marist in the scoring department with 13 points in the win. Junior guard Raheim Sullivan and senior center Jordan Jones each pitched in ten points as the other Red Foxes in double digits. John Dunne’s squad shot a strong 75 percent from the charity stripe and 44 percent from the field. All nine Marist players that saw the floor recorded at least one assist.
“We really shared the ball well,” said Dunne. “We only had nine turnovers and that’s major for us. We made some big shots and had some good energy down the stretch.”
Senior forward Jacob Rigoni netted 23 points on seven-for-12 from the perimeter in the defeat. He is now first all-time in Quinnipiac three-pointers made for the program. Freshman guard Luis Kortright pitched in 17 points and 12 rebounds.
“It was a great win, but we’ve got another one in less than 24 hours,” said Dunne. “We want to play well tomorrow because we want to feel good going into the tournament next week.”
The two teams will meet again for the second leg of their back-to-back tomorrow night in McCann Arena. Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m.
Edited by Nicholas Stanziale