Red Foxes Struggle in the Clutch, Fall to Rider on Play 4 Kay Night

The struggles continued for Marist women’s basketball as the Red Foxes dropped their fourth straight, losing to Rider 60-50 at home on Saturday night.

It was yet another struggle on the offensive end of the floor for Marist. The Red Foxes only shot 30 percent from the floor and four-of-20 from three-point range. They couldn’t make shots when it counted most, only connecting on three-of-12 from the field in the final quarter.

“At some point, it’s going to come,” Marist head coach Brian Giorgis said. “We’re young and inexperienced, but we have to keep learning and getting better. Those shots have to fall. We were shooting great in warmups, but we just aren’t getting it done in the games.”

Marist now sits at 6-14 overall and 4-8 in the MAAC through 20 games. In Giorgis’s 20 years at the helm, his teams have only lost 14 or more games four times. With the loss tonight, these Red Foxes became his fifth team to earn that dubious honor, and did so with eight games remaining on the regular-season schedule.

His 450th win will have to wait for another night.

The McCann Center seats, normally filled with spectators clad in red and white, were filled with plenty of pink on Saturday as part of Play 4 Kay night, an annual event that supports the fight against breast cancer. Both teams donned pink warmup shirts and the Red Foxes came out in their pink jerseys.

Unlike 2020, it wasn’t two 20-plus win teams facing off against each other, but the game still held significance in the MAAC Tournament picture. Marist and Rider came in sitting at ninth and tenth place respectively. If either team wanted a chance to finish in the top five and earn a first-round bye, they had to win this game.

All night long, Marist struggled to get over the hump. There were multiple occasions where the Red Foxes fell behind by seven or eight points, made a comeback, then let the momentum slip away.

A three from Sam Bailey completed a 10-0 run and put Marist up 45-42 with 6:49 remaining. McCann erupted, but the Broncs had an answer. Anna Ekerstedt leveled the score with a triple, and Mikayla Firebaugh made her fourth three of the game to put Rider up 49-45 with 5:03 left.

After Julianna Bonilla hit a pair of free throws to make 49-47, Raphaela Touissant hit a tough floater to make it a four-point game with 2:12 left.

Marist’s offensive woes came back to bite when it could least afford it. The Red Foxes endured a six-minute drought that Erin Fox mercifully ended with a three to make it 54-50 with 47 seconds remaining.

It was not enough. Marist tried to extend the game, but could not hit the shots it needed to do so.

“We spend so much energy trying to get back into the game,” Giorgis said. “When you really need that extra gear, sometimes it’s not there.”

Trinasia Kennedy paced the Red Foxes with 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting, and Fox came off the bench to add 10.

“We’ve been giving it our best effort, but to be in the same position is frustrating,” Kennedy said. “I definitely need to be a better leader. I can’t shut down or give up on anything, even if that means that I have to keep shooting the basketball. Hopefully, in the last few games, I really start to pick up my leadership.”

Zaria Shazer missed Thursday’s game at Quinnipiac with a non-COVID illness but made her way back into the lineup on Saturday. She was a non-factor, dealing with early foul trouble and fouling out with only two points to her name.

Marist had to do a good amount of work from the foul line, sinking 18-of-24 from the charity stripe.

The Broncs shot 40 percent as a team and made eight-of-20 threes. The stats from distance help explain the outcome, as Rider scored 12 more points from three on the same number of attempts. Firebaugh led Rider with 14 points.

Rider made a trio of three-pointers to open up a 27-19 lead halfway through the second quarter. The struggle that followed has been a common theme in Marist’s games this season. Neither team made a field goal in the final 4:59 of the half, and the Red Foxes went into the locker room on a whopping 3-0 run despite not making a shot from the floor in the final seven-and-a-half minutes of the first half.

Despite only shooting 29 percent from the floor and one-of-eight from three, Marist was only down 27-22 at the break. That was, at least, the positive way of looking at things.

The Broncs got their lead back up to 33-26 after Firebaugh hit her third triple of the game, but the Red Foxes showed some life on offense with an 8-0 run punctuated by a Kennedy jumper that gave Marist a 34-33 lead with 3:26 left in the third.

The good times didn’t last forever for the Red Foxes, with Touissant ending the third on a personal 5-0 run to put her team up 40-35.

The Red Foxes will make the Buffalo two-step next week, starting with a game at Niagara on Thursday night at 6 p.m.

Edited by Connor Kurpat

Photo from Marist Athletics

Author: Jonathan Kinane

I'm a senior from Syracuse, NY, studying sports communication and journalism. I consider myself a die-hard Syracuse University sports fan, but I also follow the Knicks, Giants, and Yankees in the professional ranks. Sports and writing have long been my passions and I am excited for another year with Center Field.

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