When it rains, it pours. That’s the old expression. If Marist women’s basketball had a hypothetical umbrella during an 85-67 defeat at Niagara on Thursday night, it simply wouldn’t have been of any use.
In fact, it would have been inside-out and three miles up the road before the first half was over. Marist has now lost five straight in MAAC play, extending Brian Giorgis’s longest conference losing streak of his career. It was Marist’s first loss at the Gallagher Center since January 2010.
The scoreboard ended up displaying an 18-point loss for the Red Foxes, but this one was a lot worse than it looked. Marist trailed by 30 (52-22) with 8:38 left in the third quarter. The Red Foxes’ response to Niagara’s blitz was too little, too late.
Niagara plays a fun brand of basketball. They press, hustle, and shoot a lot of threes. The Purple Eagles didn’t quite execute to their highest potential in Poughkeepsie. But Thursday in Buffalo was a different story. Niagara was at its peak while Marist reached a nadir in an already frustrating season.
The Red Foxes got past the Purple Eagles 72-65 when the teams met at the McCann Center back in January. It was the final game of Kiara Fisher’s season and one where Marist played some of its best basketball. Except for a victory over 3-19 Canisius, it’s been all downhill from there.
It went south for Marist in the second quarter. Niagara led 17-11 after ten minutes, but Lore Porter quickly extended the Purple Eagles’ advantage to 26-13 with three triples in the early second quarter.
Right there, you knew the Red Foxes were in trouble. The offense isn’t built to make big comebacks. Marist had to stem the tide with eight minutes left in the first half but couldn’t do it. Niagara continued to run and gun while the Red Foxes thudded shot after shot off the rim.
Ally Haar hit a three to make it 36-19 Niagara with 4:33 left, and Saige Glover made it a 20-point game a few minutes later with a conventional three-point play. A banked-in three from Angel Parker at the buzzer made it 46-22, a perfect end to the worst ten minutes of Marist’s season.
Niagara outscored the Red Foxes 29-11 in the second quarter, shot 61 percent to Marist’s 29, and made five threes compared to none from the visitors. The Red Foxes’ locker room could not have been a pretty scene.
The Red Foxes played better on the defensive end in the second half but Niagara just had too much of a lead. Kendall Krick hit back-to-back threes to make it 71-56 with 6:05 left, but Parker had the answer, stepping back and draining a triple to make it 76-56 with 4:48 remaining.
Marist thinned the margin down the stretch, but the Purple Eagles had the luxury of taking their foot off the gas on the way to an easy victory.
A few years ago, Marist used to have a sizable experience advantage over the Purple Eagles. Now, Niagara is the older and wiser team. Players like Angel Parker, Haar, Olivia Mason, and Maddy Yelle are not new names to Marist fans.
Angel Parker and her younger Aaliyah both starred for the Purple Eagles. Angel racked up 19 points, eight assists, and six rebounds. Aaliyah added a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. All of Niagara’s starters finished in double-figures.
85 points is a new-season high against Marist’s defense. The Purple Eagles shot 46 percent from the floor and 12-of-30 from distance.
Marist’s shooting numbers looked a little better than usual, with many of those makes coming when the game was already in Niagara’s hands. The Red Foxes shot 40 percent (32 percent in the first half) and made 6-of-14 from beyond the arc.
Catie Cunningham was one of the few bright spots for Marist. The freshman from the suburbs of Syracuse finished with a career-high 13 points.
Anabel Ellison had a team-high 15 points and seven assists in the best game of her young career, and Krick added 12 on a five-of-seven shooting night.
Zaria Shazer put up a career-high 23 points in the first meeting with the Purple Eagles but only managed four points on Thursday. Trinasia Kennedy struggled to five points on an abysmal two-of-14 shooting night.
The Buffalo two-step concludes with a Saturday afternoon clash with Canisius at 1 p.m.
Edited by Connor Kurpat
Photo from Marist Athletics