The Marist men’s basketball team took a 67-60 defeat against the Siena Saints on Friday night. Marist led by as much as 18 at one point in the first half, but were unable to execute on the offensive end down the stretch. With this defeat, the Red Foxes are now 2-4 in MAAC play this season.
“We are a tale of two teams right now. We just had too many costly turnovers, and then we fouled too much,” coach Dunne said.
Siena jumped out to an early 4-0 lead following consecutive baskets from Jackson Stormo and Jared Billups. For the rest of the first half, Marist was able to control the game on both ends of the floor.
Over almost a ten minute stretch, the Red Foxes went on an extended 28-6 run. This was led by Jao Ituka and Ricardo Wright, who were able to get anything they wanted on the offensive end. With eight minutes left in the first, a made three-pointer from Ituka made it a 28-10 game in favor of Marist.
The Saints finished the opening half on a 4-0 run, cutting the deficit to 14 going into the break. Ituka led all scores with 13 points at the half.
For the first few minutes of the second half, nothing really changed from either side in terms of points. Through the first seven minutes, the Saints could only get the lead down to as low as 14.
Then, the momentum began to change as soon as Siena made an adjustment on the defensive end. After struggling to close driving lanes for Ituka in particular, head coach Carmen Maciariello switched to a 1-3-1 zone.
“It caught us off guard but it was no excuse for us to turn the ball over and not execute on offense,” Ituka said about how Siena’s zone affected the team in the second half.
The change in defense allowed the Saints to get out in transition. Over a six minute stretch, Siena went on a 18-2 run to cut the Marist lead to just one. The momentum was completely in favor of the road team.
After Wright connected on a three-pointer to give the Red Foxes a 55-51 lead, Siena immediately fought back. The Saints scored the next seven points, all from the free throw line. All of a sudden, Siena had a three-point lead with less than three minutes remaining.
Ituka would tie the game at 58 apiece following a basket at the rim plus a free throw. With 01:48 left, either team had every opportunity to earn the victory.
Anthony Gaines gave Siena a 63-60 lead following a fadeaway basket plus the free throw. From that point on, the Saints never looked back. Siena finished the game on a 6-2 run, coming away with a massive road victory in conference play.
Ituka, who missed the past two games while being in COVID-19 protocols, was excellent in his first game back on the floor. The 6-foot-1 guard had a game-high 20 points on seven-for-15 shooting from the field and two-for-three from beyond the arc.
Ricardo Wright was another standout performer for the Red Foxes. The sophomore from Eustis, Florida had 17 points on six-for-14 shooting from the field and three-for-eight shooting from three in 35 minutes.
Colby Rogers, who came into the game as the leading scorer for the Saints, finished with a team-high 16 points on six-for-11 shooting from the field and two-for-four from three. This is the fifth straight game that the 6-foot-4 junior has scored in double figures.
“That is back to back losses at home and all we can hope for is to pick it up on Sunday. That is all I am focused on now,” Ituka said.
Marist returns to play on Jan. 16th at 2 p.m., when they face the Monmouth Hawks at McCann Arena in Poughkeepsie, New York. The Red Foxes are 16-26 against Siena all-time and the Hawks won the last matchup between these teams, earning a 72-62 victory on Jan. 10, 2021.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo credit: Luke Sassa