The Marist men’s basketball team earned a 67-66 victory at home over the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Sunday afternoon.
The Red Foxes found themselves in another close game down the stretch, and were able to find a way to win in the end. Marist now has a 8-9 record in MAAC play this season, pushing the team ahead of Quinnipiac to fifth in the current conference standings.
“I thought our guys were extremely resilient and deserved the win. It’s great to get five in a row,” coach John Dunne said after the game.
When these teams faced off on Jan. 28, both Quinnipiac and Marist were able to score the ball at will. The beginning of this contest resembled a lot of what we saw in the previous matchup last month. Most of the first half was highlighted by both teams going on their own offensive runs.
Coach John Dunne could not have asked for a better start against the Bobcats. Three-pointers made from Matt Herasme, Ricardo Wright, and Samkelo Cele gave his team a 9-0 lead inside the first two minutes, forcing Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy to call an early timeout.
The Bobcats proceeded to go on a run of their own over the next three and a half minutes, tying the game at nine just five minutes into the contest.
For the rest of the first half, neither team would lead by more than six points. Marist continued to have the upper hand, but the Bobcats were not going to go down without a fight.
The Red Foxes led for over 13 minutes in the first half, but were unable to put some distance between themselves and Quinnipiac. The Bobcats scored the final four points of the half, tying the game at 30 apiece at the break.
In contrast to the first half, Marist came out of the break as the rustier team. The offense was clicking for the Bobcats, and it showed on the scoreboard. At the 17:07 mark in the second, Quinnipiac held a 38-32 lead.
But even when the Red Foxes were trailing, the ball movement on the offensive end continued to be there. The team was constantly making the extra pass, turning down a potential good shot for an even better look at the basket.
A three-pointer from Noah Harris gave Marist a 55-46 lead with just under ten minutes left in the game. Everytime the Red Foxes were coming down the floor, a good shot was being created.
Just as they did in the first half, the Bobcats were able to come up with a run of their own. An 11-2 run for the road team tied the game at 57 apiece with 05:39 left.
On two separate occasions, Quinnipiac regained the lead through made baskets from Dezi Jones. With just over three minutes left, the Bobcats were up 63-62.
Jao Ituka, who struggled for most of the afternoon, had two king-sized baskets in the final minutes. A three-pointer from the freshman guard gave Marist a two-point lead. Both teams traded baskets over the next minute to give the Red Foxes a 67-65 advantage.
With just 21 seconds left in the game, Quinnipiac forward Kevin Marfo was sent to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. If he had been able to connect on both shots, the game would have been tied at 67.
Marfo made the first, but missed right on the second shot. The ball was loose for a few seconds, as nobody was able to gain possession. The Bobcats collected the offensive rebound through Marfo, and immediately called a timeout.
On the ensuing possession, Quinnipiac got two good looks at the basket. The first was from Matt Balanc, but that shot did not fall. The Bobcats had another look through Luis Kortright, but that was successful as well. The Red Foxes grabbed the rebound, sending Marist back to the free throw line.
With the chance to extend the lead, Victor Enoh missed the frontend of a one and one, giving the ball back to the Bobcats. Quinnipiac would have the last shot to win the game.
Balanc rushed up the court as he looked to create an open look for himself. The 6-foot-4 guard took a few steps inside the three-point line, but was a bit unbalanced as he let the shot go. As the buzzer sounded, the ball hit the backboard and rolled around the rim, but would not fall.
Raheim Sullivan played a massive role in helping the Red Foxes win over Quinnipiac. The 6-foot-1 guard had a team-high 12 points on four-for-seven shooting from the field and four-for-five shooting from three along with a season-high five assists.
“He can make plays. He can definitely get to the rim, but when he’s got a mindset to share it, there is no better passer in the league. Raheim is right up there with the rest of them,” coach Dunne said about Sullivan’s game.
What the bench was able to provide for the Red Foxes was critical in getting over the line. The team had 42 bench points, including three non-starters who finished in double figures.
“We just came in with the mindset that we were going to do whatever we could to help the team get the win. Today, it was about us hitting open shots, and we were able to do that,” Braden Bell said about the bench contributing in a big way.
Marist returns to play on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m., when they face the Manhattan Jaspers at McCann Arena. The Jaspers earned a 72-66 victory at home when these teams faced off earlier this season on Jan. 30, 2022.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Marist Athletics