ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.– The Marist men’s basketball team dropped their first-round matchup with the Quinnipiac Bobcats 77-52 on Tuesday night in the first round of the MAAC Tournament.
With the loss, John Dunne fell to 0-4 in the tournament as Marist head coach. Long-time players like Matt Herasme and Jordan Jones ended their Marist careers without a single postseason win.
The Red Foxes fell behind early, and were unable to mount a significant comeback at any point during the second half.
“Have to give them [Quinnipiac] credit. They were just better than we were today for sure. They really moved the ball well offensively,” head coach John Dunne said.
The opening exchanges of the contest included both teams looking to play with pace. At the first media timeout, Quinnipiac held a slim 6-5 advantage.
Over the course of the next few minutes, the Bobcats were able to stretch their lead out. Quinnipiac began to connect at high-rate from long distance, opening up the floor for them. At the 10:53 mark, Marist trailed by nine.
The remainder of the first half was filled by both teams struggling to score the basketball. Still, Quinnipiac held a comfortable lead over the Red Foxes. A three-pointer at the 2:35 mark from Matt Balanc pushed the lead back to ten.
The Red Foxes needed a strong finish to the first half, and they were able to find that. The team began to find Jordan Jones on the block, proving to be a successful strategy. The Marist center struggled early, but made consecutive field goal attempts, getting within six.
Braden Bell had a chance to cut the deficit to three with a turnaround three-pointer from the wing, but it missed a bit long as the buzzer sounded. Marist went into the halftime break trailing 31-25.
The Bobcats led for nearly 19 minutes in the first half, and much of their success was coming from beyond the arc. Quinnipiac shot seven-for-18 from long distance in the opening twenty minutes, including three makes from forward Jacob Rigoni.
Coming out of the break, the Red Foxes needed a strong start to the second half in order to put some pressure on Quinnipiac. But the run never came for Marist, with the Bobcats consistently adding to their advantage.
Quinnipiac went on an 11-4 run over the first three minutes of the second half, stretching their lead back out to 13. From that point on, Marist would never get within single digits.
The deficit continued to grow as the shots were failing to go through the basket for Marist. With a little more than seven minutes remaining, the lead was at 20 following three-made free throws from Rigoni.
Marist continued to play hard until the final buzzer sounded, but it wasn’t enough to make the game close in the end. Ricardo Wright and Jones each had four points in the final few minutes, finishing the game off with a 25-point loss.
The three-point shooting of the Bobcats gave Marist problems throughout the entire 40 minutes. Quinnipiac shot 17-for-35 from long distance, compared to the Red Foxes who were just two-for-17 on threes.
Rigoni was a constant thorn in the side of the Red Foxes, taking advantage of any opportunity he got on the perimeter. The 6-foot-6 graduate student scored a game-high 26 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field and 7-for-11 shooting from three.
Dezi Jones had an excellent performance for the Bobcats as well, finishing with 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field and four-for-nine shooting from long distance. The 5-foot-10 sophomore also filled that stat sheet with 10 rebounds and eight assists in 38 minutes of action.
Balanc was the only other player who scored in double figures for Quinnipiac, ending with 18 points on an efficient 6-for-10 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 shooting from three.
Wright led the way for Marist in scoring, finishing with a team-high 14 points along with five rebounds and two assists. Jordan and Raheim Sullivan were the only other Red Foxes to have double figures, contributing with 12 and ten points respectively.
Sullivan, a senior from Toronto, who joined the program prior to the beginning of the last season, talked postgame about what this season meant to him. “It was a really good season for us. As a player, I feel like I have grown as a player throughout the years I’ve been here,” the guard said,
Marist ends the season at 14-16 overall, losing each of their final three games. The Red Foxes’ last win in the conference dates back to the 2014-15 season. Marist will lose several seniors to graduation and it will be interesting to see what this offseason holds.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Jonathan Kinane