The misery of the last month got a little worse for Marist women’s basketball, as the team lost on the road to Fairfield 57-52 in its first MAAC game of the season on Saturday.
The Red Foxes are in the midst of a six-game losing streak that dates back to November 19 when they went on the road to Arizona. Saturday’s loss marked the end of a 16-game winning streak in conference openers.
Marist played its last two games against Lafayette and Columbia with only eight available players before entering a COVID-related program pause. The team started practicing earlier this week, getting its COVID positive players back and receiving a boost with the return of Trinasia Kennedy.
It wasn’t enough to sneak past Fairfield in a rematch of last year’s MAAC Tournament semi-final.
The Stags built a 37-22 halftime lead on the strength of 52 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes. Then, they had to hold on for dear life as the ball stopped going through the hoop in the second half.
Kennedy made it a 45-43 game after making a three with 7:54 left. After Fairfield responded with eight of the next ten points, Marist once again cut it to a one-possession game with a floater in the lane from Julianna Bonilla to make it 53-50 with about two minutes left.
On Fairfield’s next trip the ever-consistent Lou Lopez-Senechal hit a tough jumper to make it 55-50 with 1:34 remaining. Free throws from Kiara Fisher brought it to 55-52 with 25 seconds left, but Marist could not execute on its remaining possessions, with Zaria Demember-Shazer missing in the lane down 56-52 with 20 seconds left.
In the end, offensive ineptitude, rebounding, and late-game execution doomed the Red Foxes. Marist shot 18-for-57 (32 percent) from the floor and five-of-23 from three. Brian Giorgis’s team had plenty of good looks from deep, with frustratingly few of them going down.
They lost the rebounding battle 44-32 against a team that plays primarily zone. Marist also failed to execute in the clutch and score when it was needed. The Red Foxes are only 1-4 in games decided by 10 or fewer points.
Kennedy was outstanding in her return, scoring Marist’s first eight points of the game and finishing with 18 points on seven-of-14 shooting, including four hits from deep. Giorgis limited her time on the court in the first half but left her out there for most of the second. She played 32 minutes in the afternoon.
Her AAU teammate Kiara Fisher also ended up in double-figures with 17 and had a team-high three assists. Marist only finished with eight assists on the day, not the best number against a team that plays so much zone.
Zaria Shazer was the next-leading scorer with seven. No other player had more than three.
The Stags finished 37 percent from the field (just 20 percent in the second half). They made six-of-17 from three and 11-of-13 from the free-throw line.
Lopez-Senechal had 18 points to pace the Stags but needed 20 shots to get there. Rachel Hakes added 12 points, and Andrea Hernangomez grabbed 17 rebounds.
After Kennedy’s opening outburst, Marist fell into an offensive slump that fans now know all too well. The Red Foxes went almost seven minutes without points but only trailed 14-11 at the first 10 minutes.
The Stags got clicking in the second quarter, making 10-of-15 from the floor. They went on a 7-0 run to make it 21-11 and force a Marist timeout early in the period. Back-to-back threes from Janelle Brown and Sam Lewis helped Fairfield open up a 15-point halftime lead.
Back-to-back steals and layups from Fisher and Kennedy brought the Red Foxes within 37-29 at the media timeout in the third. As the Stags continued to clank shots, Marist failed to take advantage in key moments. A put-back layup from Siobhan Boylan made it a 41-36 deficit at the end of the third.
Marist will have a quick turnaround as it faces Iona at the McCann Center on Monday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Edited by Connor Kurpat
Photo from Marist Athletics