The student overcame her teacher on Friday night at the McCann Center, as Megan Gebbia’s American squad earned a 59-52 victory over Marist, spoiling the Red Foxes’ first game in front of their home fans since March 7, 2020.
“It was a hard-fought game but I know we can play a lot better,” Marist head coach Brian Giorgis said after the loss. “We missed some easy layups and I think we were nervous. For some of these guys, it’s their first time playing in front of fans like this.”
It was a gritty game, but neither coach expected anything different.
“I actually thought it was going to be lower-scoring than this,” Gebbia said. “I was surprised we got into the 50s. I think that shows how good both teams are on defense.”
Gebbia coached at Marist under Giorgis from 2003 until 2013. She was a part of three teams that won a game in the NCAA Tournament, including the 2007 Sweet 16 team. Giorgis presented her with a plaque before the game, which honored that Cinderella run.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been as anxious going into a game,” Gebbia said. “I didn’t necessarily enjoy it. But both teams played really good defense. It came down to getting stops, making free throws, hitting big shots.”
Gebbia’s team did all three of those to score a win over their hosts.
The Red Foxes trailed 48-42 with three minutes left, but Marist’s Southern Tier combo of Kiara Fisher and Zaria (no-longer Demember) Shazer pulled their team back into the game. Fisher converted a pair of driving layups, and Shazer split a pair from the free-throw line to tie things at 49 with just over a minute left.
The Eagles, however, had the last laugh.
Karla Vres splashed a pick-and-pop three to put the visitors up 52-49 with 57 seconds left. On Marist’s next possession, Kendall Krick had a good look to tie things, but her shot rimmed out. The Red Foxes opted to foul, but Emily Fisher drained both foul shots to extend American’s lead to five with 34 seconds left.
Krick lost the ball on the subsequent Marist possession, assuring Gebbia the win at her former school.
The presence of Willow Duffell and Allie Best, on the night where the 2020-21 Marist women’s basketball team received their MAAC Championship rings, could not spur the Red Foxes past a team that made the big plays when it was needed.
Fisher finished with a game-high 25 points, reaching double-figures for the second consecutive game of the young season. She initially struggled from the floor, but shot seven-for-17 from the field, three-of-five from three, and eight-of-10 from the free-throw line. She forced the issue a bit too heavily at times, which was a contributing factor toward her five turnovers.
Shazer finished with 14 points, but needed 13 shots to get there. She grabbed 13 rebounds to secure her second double-double in two games.
Julianna Bonilla went scoreless after 16 points at Drexel. No other Marist player recorded more than three points on the night.
“We need to get more contributions from other people,” Giorgis said. “Kiara had a great game and Zaria had a good game, but we’ve got to be much better.”
Trinasia Kennedy and Sarah Barcello both missed the game as they continue to recover from off-season surgery.
Marist (1-1) shot 17-for-52 from the field and five-of-17 from three. The Red Foxes could only make 13-of-21 from the foul line and turned the ball over 20 times against just five assists.
Patriot League Preseason Player of the year Jade Edwards paced the Eagles (1-1) with 18 points on six-of-11 shooting. Emily Fisher finished with 10 points, and Taylor Brown and Ivy Bales both had nine.
The Red Foxes only shot 24 percent in the first half, missing several good looks right at the basket. The Eagles rained down five threes in the first 11 minutes of the game to build a 21-6 lead.
After a nearly nine-minute field goal drought, Fisher and Shazer, the old high school teammates, got things going on offense. Shazer found success in the paint, and Fisher accounted for her team’s last five points of the first 20 minutes, which cut the deficit to 25-21 at the intermission.
Coming out of the break, American converted the point-blank looks that the Red Foxes couldn’t, to make it 31-21. Marist fought back to get it to 36-33 near the end of the third, but an Eagles steal and transition layup from Emily Fisher made it a five-point game going into the fourth.
Marist will look to clean-up its performance when they host Vermont on Sunday afternoon. The Catamounts are coached by former Marist standout Alisa Kresge. The second Giorgis reunion game of the weekend will tip at 3 p.m.
Edited by Connor Kurpat
Image from Luke Sassa