The Marist men’s basketball team earned a 78-67 defeat on the road against the Canisius Golden Griffins on Thursday night.
The Red Foxes fell behind early and were unable to mount a comeback in the end. Marist now has a 9-10 record in MAAC play this season, which is good enough for fifth in the current conference standings going into the final weekend of regular season play.
Canisius opened up the scoring with a layup from George Maslennikov. On the next possession for the Golden Griffins, the 6-foot-10 senior forward added to his tally with a short jumper.
Marist followed that with a 7-0 run over the next three and half minutes, capped off by a reverse layup from senior forward Braden Bell.
As the first wore on, the Golden Griffins were able to find opportunities to get out and run in transition. On countless occasions, Canisius point senior guard Ahamadou Fofana was able to use his quickness to get his team open layups on the break.
The combination of Marist committing turnovers and Canisius looking to run put the Red Foxes behind the eight ball. With 07:53 remaining in the half, the Golden Griffins had a 27-17 lead.
Heading into the final media timeout of the first half though, all the momentum was in favor of the Red Foxes. Graduate student center Jordan Jones made back-to-back free throws, cutting the deficit to just four at the 03:51 mark.
But just when it seemed like Marist was preparing to turn to corner, Canisius responded with a punch of their own. The Golden Griffins finished the half on a 5-0 run, extending their lead to nine heading into the break.
Marist got off to a good start to begin the second half. Baskets from Jones and sophomore guard Ricardo Wright got the Red Foxes within five at the 18:30 mark. But the story was similar to what occurred throughout the first, as any push from Marist was immediately answered by Canisius.
The Golden Griffins went on a 7-2 run heading into the first media timeout of the second half, pushing the lead back to ten at 43-33.
Marist eventually got within six following a made jumper from senior forward Samkelo Cele at the 12:39 mark, but that as was close as the Red Foxes would get. A made basket from freshman guard Xzavier Long gave Canisius under four minutes remaining, ultimately putting the game to rest. The Red Foxes ended the game on a 13-7 run, giving the road team an 11 point loss.
The number of turnovers will be the main takeaway from a Red Fox perspective looking back at this contest. Marist, who has done an excellent job taking care of the ball over the last three weeks, committed 15 turnovers against Canisius, which resulted in 19 points off turnovers.
Fofana was the standout performer for the Golden Griffins, giving Marist a handful of problems all night long. The 6-foot-1 senior had a game-high 21 points on six-for-14 shooting from the field and three-for-nine shooting from beyond the arc. Fofana also contributed with nine total rebounds in 38 minutes.
Akrum Ahemed provided a crucial spark off the bench for Canisius. The 6-foot-5 junior guard had 13 points on five-for-nine shooting from the field and three-for-seven shooting from long distance in 29 minutes.
While it was a tough night for the Red Foxes as a whole, freshman guard Jao Ituka was able to put his mark on the game. The freshman guard had a team-high 19 points on six-for-11 shooting from the field and seven-for-seven shooting from the charity stripe. He also had seven rebounds in 32 minutes of action.
Cele was able to create for himself on the offensive end as well. The senior forward scored 13 points on five-for-11 shooting from the field and two-for-four from beyond the arc.
Marist returns to play on Mar. 5th at 1 p.m., when they face the Niagara Purple Eagles at the Gallagher Center. The Red Foxes earned a 77-70 victory at home when these teams faced off earlier this season on Feb. 14th, 2022.
A win for Marist on Saturday would clinch a first-round bye in the MAAC Men’s Basketball Championship next week. If the Red Foxes were to lose, their position heading into Atlantic City could change.
Edited by Bridget Reilly
Photo Credit: Marist Athletics