After a disparaging loss to Siena two nights ago, Marist women’s basketball rebounded with a 71-53 victory over Monmouth on Saturday at the McCann Center.
The Red Foxes and the Hawks came into the game on vastly different trajectories after finishing on completely different ends of the MAAC last season. Monmouth has enjoyed a dramatic turnaround under first-year head coach Ginny Boggess. After ending last season 2-16, the Hawks came into the game 7-4 and 2-0 in the MAAC.
After last season’s trip to the NCAA Tournament, and a 26-4 record in 2019-20, the Red Foxes only had three wins in their first 12 games.
So, of course, Marist won.
For a while, Saturday’s contest felt eerily familiar to the encounter with the Saints on Thursday. Marist held a single-digit halftime lead that should have been higher and allowed the opposing team to have momentum going into the locker room.
Sure enough, the Hawks opened the second half with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 34 with 8:26 left. This time, Marist responded. Erin Fox hit a three to give Marist a 41-37 lead at the 5:24 mark in the third.
In the past few games, the Red Foxes struggled to get stops in the second half, but the Hawks struggled to score amidst a wave of turnovers, enduring a lengthy field goal drought as Marist opened up a 51-42 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
There was no extended drought that Marist fans have grown to expect. The Red Foxes finished strong, going on a 13-4 run to open up a 64-46 lead with less than five minutes left.
Marist (4-8, 2-3 in the MAAC) seemed to establish more of an inside-scoring identity on offense. The Red Foxes only attempted 10 threes, making two. Brian Giorgis’s team pounded the paint, scoring 40 points from close range. Monmouth’s Belle Kranbuhl is one of the MAAC’s best bigs, but Marist took her out of the equation.
The Red Foxes shot 51 percent from the floor, the team’s best mark of the season.
The emphasis on paint points benefitted Zaria Shazer, who set a new career-high with 20 points to go along with eight rebounds.
Kiara Fisher proved too quick for Monmouth and took top scoring honors, totaling 22 points on the night. She struggled with six turnovers but was effective and efficient from the floor, shooting 10-of-12.
No other Marist player finished in double figures, but the bench did its job after Giorgis criticized himself for not subbing enough. Catie Cunningham had seven points, not missing a shot, and Fox added five. As a whole, the second unit provided a boost of energy that was not present on Thursday.
Marist’s defense forced a season-high 32 turnovers. A lot of what Monmouth wounds were self-inflicted, but the Red Foxes deserve credit for turning those mistakes into 31 points.
Stella Clark filled the stat sheet for the Hawks (7-5, 2-1 in the MAAC). She flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists.
Nothing went right for Monmouth in the first half. Sophomore center and one of the best bigs in the MAAC, Belle Kranbuhl picked up two early fouls, and Hawks starter Jen Louro went to the bench with three personals. Monmouth treated the ball about as poorly as they could, giving it away 16 times in the first 20 minutes.
They also watched Shazer and Fisher combine for 28 first-half points (Shazer already had her new career-high with 16 at the break). But once again, Marist struggled to find balance, only getting six points from the rest of the team. The Red Foxes led 34-27 at intermission, but Clark kept the Hawks in shouting distance with a three near the buzzer.
Marist needs to parlay this win into some sustained momentum. The MAAC is full of parity this season, with any of the 10 teams being able to win on a given night. A few wins in a row will vault the Red Foxes back into the conversation.
Marist’s next game is at Iona on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. in New Rochelle.
Edited by Connor Kurpat
Image from Marist Athletics