The Marist men’s basketball team got back in the win column with an emphatic 83-58 road victory against the Monmouth Hawks on Tuesday night.
With the win tonight, the Red Foxes have now earned the season sweep over Monmouth in what could be the final MAAC meeting between the teams. Three of the four wins Marist has in conference play have come on the road.
In the early going, Marist was going to Ricardo Wright on the offensive end, and he delivered. The sophomore guard opened up the game with a three-pointer, scoring an additional four points before the first media timeout. Still, Monmouth held a 10-9 lead four minutes into the contest.
After two-made free throws from Walker Miller, the Red Foxes took control of the game. A layup from Braden Bell followed by consecutive threes from Noah Harris gave Marist a five-point lead, taking all of the energy out of the gym.
Midway through the first half, all the momentum was in favor of the road team. With a little more than nine minutes remaining in the half, the Red Foxes held a 31-22 lead.
Late in the first half, the driving lanes started to open up for Jao Ituka. On multiple occasions, the leading scorer for the Red Foxes was able to cut through the Monmouth defense and finish at the basket. The freshman guard scored seven points in the final three minutes of the half, including a three-point play to extend the lead to 14.
The Red Foxes had a 40-26 advantage as the team headed into the break. While their defense was able to really limit Monmouth, the efficiency of the offense for Marist in the opening 20 minutes gave the team a big lift.
Marist shot 15-for-26 from the field and five-for-eight from long distance, showing the ability to find a rhythm offensively. At the half, Ituka, Wright, and Harris combined for 27 of the team’s points.
Monmouth came out of halftime with far more energy after struggling for big portions of the first half. The Hawks cut the deficit six at the 12:57 mark following a 10-2 run from the home team.
During that run, Papas was fouled on a three-point attempt. After making the first free throw, the guard also connected on the second, which gave him 1,000 career points at Monmouth.
A jumper from Rollin Belton and another three-pointer from Harris swung the momentum back to the Red Foxes. With 12:07 left remaining in the game, Marist led 47-36.
From that point on, Marist showed the ability to pull away from the Hawks. Over the next six minutes, the Red Foxes went on a 17-6 run, capped off by a one-handed slam from Ituka to extend the lead to 22 with 6:03 remaining.
The game finished with both team trading baskets but the result was sealed at that stage.
Ituka had an excellent showing against the Hawks, scoring a game-high 25 points on nine-for-14 shooting from the field and seven-for-nine shooting from the free-throw line in 26 minutes. This is the fourth time in which the freshman guard has scored at least 20 points this season.
Wright was also a key contributor in their victory, scoring 20 points on six-for-13 shooting from the field and four-for-eight shooting from beyond the arc in 32 minutes.
Harris was the other Red Fox who scored in double figures, adding 13 points on five-for-ten shooting from the field and three-for-seven shooting from three.
Coming into this contest, a key for Marist was to make things difficult for fifth-year senior George Papas, one of the top scores in the conference. Matt Herasme did a fantastic job defending him, holding the Monmouth guard to just three points on zero-for-eight shooting from the field, all of which came from the free-throw line.
While he had to exit the game early with an injury, Shavar Reynolds Jr. was also limited by the Marist defense. The 6-foot-2 guard had just three points on one-for-nine shooting from the field and one-for-two shooting from three in 17 minutes.
While most of the players for Monmouth were kept in check, Miller was the standout performer for the Hawks. The 6-foot-11 forward had a team-high 17 points on five-for-13 shooting from the field and eight rebounds.
Marist returns to play on Feb. 12th at 7 p.m., when they face the Canisius Golden Griffins at McCann Arena. The Red Foxes earned a 56-52 victory on the road when these teams last faced off on Dec. 12th, 2020.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Marist Athletics