The Marist men’s basketball team struggled to replicate the same intensity they showed on Opening Night, as they dropped their first game of the season 78-75 against the Binghamton Bearcats on Saturday night.
“I thought coming off of Wednesday, I felt we were extremely disciplined in that game. Then tonight, there was a big emotional letdown. We weren’t nearly as disciplined as we were against American,” head coach John Dunne said about what went wrong tonight.
The Red Foxes kept it close for most of the game, but when they had a chance to pull ahead of Binghamton in the second half, they had a turnover in a bad situation or they were unable to grab a rebound on the defensive end.
Early in the game, Marist made it an emphasis to get the ball on the interior, an effective form of offense to say the least. Three of their first four makes came from either Patrick Gardner or Rollin Belton. At the first media timeout, the Red Foxes led 8-7.
One thing Gardner did not showcase in his first game with the Red Foxes was his ability to shoot from distance. The 6-foot-11 center missed his first three-point attempt of the game but made his second to tie the game at 18 apiece with just over nine minutes left in the first half.
The remainder of the first half was quite even, but the Bearcats executed enough to pull ahead of Marist. Binghamton had solid offense sets, and they were able to force their opponents to take tough shots of their own.
Binghamton finished the half with four consecutive points, stretching their lead out to seven going into the break. Marist hung around for most of the first, but the Bearcats were the stronger team. Binghamton was ahead for over 12 minutes of the half, and took a 37-30 lead into halftime.
A majority of the struggles came on the offensive end for the Red Foxes. Gardner shot 5-for-11 from the field in the first half, but the rest of the team only managed to shoot 5-for-14 (or 35.7 percent). An inability to create second looks was also an issue, as Marist only had one offensive rebound.
Marist had a total of two three-point makes in the entire first half. In less than a minute, the Red Foxes equaled that number following halftime. Triples from Noah Harris and Javon Cooley cut the deficit to one at 37-36.
It looked as if the momentum was fully in favor of the Red Foxes at that point, but they were unable to capitalize. That would be as close as Marist got for the remainder of the game, as Binghamton proved to be the strong team on the day.
The Bearcats went on an extended 24-11 run across over nearly ten minutes of action, led by guard Jacob Falko and forward Miles Gibson. With 9:34 left in the second half, Binghamton led 61-47.
By the time it was down to the final few minutes of the game, the deficit was big enough for Marist to make it a free-throw game. Binghamton missed the front end of a one-and-one on a few different occasions, giving Marist the chance to run in transition.
The Red Foxes made it a five-point game with 47 seconds left, but Binghamton knocked down the remainder of their free throws to win by three.
“Yeah, it’s funny because they have a lot of new faces. But they do have older guys, older stronger,” coach Dunne said about playing a tough Binghamton this early in the season. “They battled on the glass. They shared the ball and did whatever it took to win.
Jacob Falko played a critical role in the Bearcats retaining their lead throughout the second half, finishing with 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 shooting from three. His ability to put constant pressure on the rim proved to be a handful for the Marist guards all night.
Patrick Gardner was the standout performer for the Red Foxes, scoring a game-high 24 points on 9-for-21 shooting from the field along with grabbing 13 rebounds. The big man shot 5-for-6 from the free-throw line as well.
I’d say it’s more much physical. They’re much more disciplined on defense. But I think I’ve had a good offseason in the weight room,” Gardner said on how he has been guarded in a higher level. “It’s going to be tough to play two or three games a week and battle physically each game, so that’s something I’ll have to learn. But I’m ready for the challenge.”
Marist heads on the road to face the Lehigh Mountain Hawks off the Patriot League on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Stabler Arena.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Jonathan Kinane