The Marist men’s basketball team earned a dominant 84-48 victory at home over the Monmouth Hawks on Sunday afternoon. This victory means that the Red Foxes have beaten Monmouth for the first time since the 2017-18 season. Marist now has a 3-4 in MAAC play.
“We wanted to match their intensity coming out. Being at home and being focused, I thought our energy level was really good,” coach Dunne.
Just as they did on Friday night against Siena, the Red Foxes were able to get out to a fast start. At the first media timeout, Marist held a 10-4 lead, thanks to five points apiece from Jao Ituka and Ricardo Wright.
George Papas connected on a mid-range jumper from the baseline, which made it a four-point game following the timeout, but that was also close as Monmouth would get for the rest of the half.
A high level of defensive pressure from the Red Foxes took Monmouth out of rhythm. The Hawks were forcing a lot of shots in the early going, and Marist made them pay for it. With just under seven minutes left in the first, the Red Foxes had a 25-10 lead.
Marist finished the half on a 16-2 run, taking a 24-point lead going into halftime. With just under a minute remaining in the first, Wright drove to the lane and finished over multiple Monmouth defenders to take his tally up to 18 points on just eight field goal attempts.
While the team was incredibly efficient on the offensive end, Marist was able to get out to such a large advantage as a result of their effort defensively. Monmouth only shot 29.6 percent from the field and made none of their 10 three-point attempts in the opening half. The Hawks also committed nine turnovers, with the Red Foxes turned into 12 points.
Marist did not miss a beat in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring the first eight points to extend their lead to 32. Monmouth were looking to find some momentum to change the game, but the Red Foxes gave them no opportunity to do so.
Slowly but surely, the lead continued to grow for the home team. Samkelo Cele and Javon Cooley reached double figures late in the second half, joining Ituka and Wright.
The Red Foxes led by as much as 46, but a 10-0 run for Monmouth over the final four minutes gave Marist a 36-point victory.
Ituka had another magnificent performance for the Red Foxes. The freshman guard had a game-high 28 points on seven-for-11 shooting from the field and two-for-two shooting from three. Ituka also got to the line 15 times, connecting on 12 of those shots.
Wright was another major contributor for Marist. The 6-foot-4 sophomore had 24 points, including 18 in the first half, on seven-for-10 shooting from the field and four-for-five shooting from three.
“I think as a team, we needed it. We spark the scoring and the momentum for us to get going on offense,” Ituka said about how important it was for him and Wright to score in the way they did against Monmouth.
The Red Foxes did an excellent job on containing two of the best scorers in the conference. Papas, who came into the game averaging a team-high 16.3 points per game, was held to just five points on two-for-eight shooting from the field and one-for-six shooting from three. Papas also fouled out of the game in just 19 minutes of action.
Shavar Reynolds, a transfer from Seton Hall who is averaging 15.4 points per game, had a tough shooting performance as well. The 6-foot-2 guard had 10 points on three-for-11 shooting from the field and zero-for-five shooting from beyond the arc in 28 minutes.
Marist returns to play on Jan. 23rd at 2 p.m., when they face the Fairfield Stags at McCann Arena in Poughkeepsie, New York. The Red Foxes earned a 60-51 road victory when these teams faced off earlier this season on Jan. 7th.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Luka Sassa