It has been a season full of frustrating losses for Marist women’s basketball (4-10, 2-4 in the MAAC), but on Thursday night in New Rochelle, the Red Foxes nearly ceased to exist on the offensive end in an exasperating 49-41 loss to Iona (4-8, 2-5 in the MAAC).
After soundly defeating Monmouth on Saturday, Marist seemed ready to take the next step and reach its first winning streak of the season with a win against the Gaels. The Red Foxes led through most of the first three quarters before Iona slowly and painfully overtook them.
The game got off to an auspicious enough beginning but soon devolved into a contest that made even the biggest fans of defense squirm in their seats. There were several instances where both teams went minutes without scoring, some of them at the same time.
The offensive numbers from this game are nearly too painful to put into print. Marist only made 12 shots from the floor, shot just 24 percent for the night, and turned the ball over 20 times.
The deeper you get into it, the worse it looks.
The Red Foxes only scored 22 points in the final three quarters and only 14 points in the second half. They did not make a field goal in the third quarter and shot three-for-27 (11 percent) in the final 20 minutes. An 11-minute field goal drought to start the second half should have been the most dubious offensive stat for Marist. It wasn’t.
That honor probably belongs to the seven-plus-minute scoring drought the Red Foxes endured down the stretch. When Iona took a two-possession lead at 42-38 with 4:27 left thanks to a banked-in three from Judith Gomez, it might have well been a 10-point gap.
Miss after miss after turnover ensued, and Marist could not make the Gaels pay for their mistakes on offense. The next scoring came after the Red Foxes put Iona’s Olivia Vezaldenos on the foul line with 47 seconds left. She made the first and missed the second, but the Red Foxes could not grab the rebound in a moment reminiscent of the Lafayette game.
Marist lost the rebounding battle 46-32.
Juana Camilion, who led Iona with 15 points, split another pair from the line to put the Gaels up 44-38 with 44 seconds left. At the other end, Zaria Shazer missed a three that would have made it a one-possession game again. More foul shots from the Gaels effectively iced the game.
And when Kiara Fisher hit a three with 15 seconds left, it felt more like a slap in the face than a shot to get the Red Foxes back in the mix. After not starting because of a non-COVID illness, Fisher came off the bench (ended up playing starters’ minutes) and had a 16-point outing that was marred by seven turnovers.
Credit to Billi Chambers and the Iona team for drawing up and executing a game plan, but Marist will feel like this loss was the result of another terrible offensive performance.
The offensive ineptitude was all the more head-scratching because the Red Foxes made seven shots in a row and shot 64 percent in the opening quarter to take a 19-12 lead. Things noticeably slowed down in the second quarter, as both teams had their struggles and only combined for 17 points.
Marist’s Catie Cunningham hit a buzzer-beating shot to give the Red Foxes a 27-21 lead at the half. Iona’s second-half comeback was like a funeral procession. It moved slowly, but you just knew what the final destination was going to be. For the Red Foxes, it was the graveyard.
Marist’s only makes in the third were foul shots. Still, Iona wasn’t able to overtake them until the early fourth quarter when Camilion hit a three to make it 34-33.
Fans have a right to be frustrated, but it’s important to remember that Marist only has one of its top options from last year in the fold. Trinasia Kennedy is playing through plenty of pain and is not at 100 percent. She only had six points on two-of-eight shooting and fouled out near the end of the game.
Other returning leading scorer Sarah Barcello is not with the team and will not see action this season. That means that new players are still getting used to new roles. Marist finds itself in a most unfamiliar position, and simply needs to try and peak at the end of the season.
The Red Foxes will try to get over this anger-inducing loss on Saturday night when Niagara comes to the McCann Center for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
Edited by Connor Kurpat
Image from Marist Athletics