The Marist men’s basketball team lost a tightly-contested game against the Army Black Knights 65-61 on Saturday afternoon. The Red Foxes are now 1-3 away from McCann Arena so far this season.
“I thought we competed for a good 35 minutes on the defensive end, but you got to put the ball in the basket in order to win games,” head coach John Dunne said about the team’s performance against Army.
Senior forward Samkelo Cele got the scoring started with a turnaround jumper from the baseline. After Army answered with consecutive baskets from sophomore guard Jared Cross and senior guard Josh Caldwell, senior guard Matt Herasme connected on a three-pointer from the corner to give Marist a 5-4 advantage.
Neither team found a way to extend their lead in the opening minutes until Marist got a crucial spark off the bench. Noah Harris, who has already played some big minutes in his first collegiate season, showed it again against the Black Knights. The 6-foot-1 freshman guard from Manalapan, New Jersey knocked down back-to-back threes to stretch the lead out to seven for the Red Foxes.
Army answered with a quick 10-0 run, regaining a 16-13 lead. For the rest of the half, both sides would trade punches. As soon as one team looked like they were going to grab control of the game, the group on the other side would immediately fight back.
The teams were tied at 27 a piece going into the break. Marist senior guard Raheim Sullivan and Army sophomore guard Jalen Rucker were the leading scorers for both sides with seven points respectively at the half.
Marist was most effective on the offensive end when they were able to move the ball. Driving lines to the basket were hard to find in the opening half, forcing the team to settle for more than a few three-point attempts. Marist had seven assists on ten field goal makes in the first half.
The Black Knights came out of the break with much more energy, starting the half with a 12-2 run. Marist managed to cut the deficit to three following seven straight points from Harris and freshman guard Jao Ituka.
Down the stretch, Marist found themselves trailing by just one point on multiple occasions, but were unable to get over the hump. The Red Foxes continued to battle, forcing Army to make clutch free throws down the stretch in order to close the deal.
Ituka was the leading scorer for Marist following a strong showing in the second half. The 6-foot-1 guard had a team-high 11 points with six-for-11 shooting from the field and three assists in 19 minutes.
“I just have to get used to it. That’s how teams are going to play me all year,” Ituka said about teams like Army trying to cut off driving lanes off for the point guard.
Herasme had a season-high 11 points on four-for-nine shooting from the field, along with five rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes. Harris reached double figures for the third time this season, scoring 11 points on three-for-eight shooting from the field and three-for-six shooting from behind the arc.
Rucker led the way for the Black Knights on the offensive end against Marist. The 5-foot-10 guard, who came into the game averaging 15.2 points per game, had a game-high 24 points on nine-for-14 shooting from the field and three-for-seven shooting from three.
Marist returns to play on Dec. 1st at 7 p.m. when they face the Iona Gaels at McCann Arena in Poughkeepsie, New York to open up conference play. Marist is 17-38 all-time against Iona, including a five-game winning streak that stretched from 2007-2008. The Gaels won the last matchup between these teams, earning a 78-70 victory on Feb. 16th, 2020.
Edited by Bridget Reilly
Photo Credit: Luke Sassa