DUBLIN – It took almost ten months, but Marist women’s basketball is back on a winning streak.
The Red Foxes earned their second victory in as many days with a 61-45 win over North Florida on Saturday at the National Basketball Arena in Dublin to wrap up a successful trip to the Emerald Isle for the MAAC-ASUN Challenge.
“It was a very special win,” Marist head coach Brian Giorgis said. “It’s great to come over here, have this experience, and be able to win two games.”
The 16-point margin of victory was not indicative of how well the Red Foxes played in this one. Marist led by at least 20 for nearly all of the second half and turned in one of its best performances in recent memory.
Fresh off a game against Eastern Kentucky that saw Marist hit eight threes and force 30 turnovers, the Red Foxes once again managed to combine a stellar offensive effort with their customary defensive pressure.
“It was a great team effort at both ends of the floor,” Giorgis said. “In fairness to North Florida, they were coming off a real hard-fought game last night into an afternoon game today and we tried to gameplan it that way…and they hit a couple shots early but then the legs seemed to start to go.”
Marist found success in transition during Friday’s win, and while North Florida played a bit slower, the Red Foxes pushed it when they could and had their motion offense humming for most of the afternoon.
The ball was zipping around for Marist (2-3), who assisted on 13 of its 16 first-half field goals and finished with 18 helpers on 21 makes. The Red Foxes shot 46 percent from the floor and 4-for-14 from beyond the arc.
“It feels a lot better,” graduate student Kendall Krick said of her team’s ball movement. “We know motion can be a really effective offense and as long as we move the ball and set good screens, it will be a lot better.”
Krick proved to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the motion offense early on and finished with a team-high 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go along with five assists in 27 minutes of action.
After going for 22 points and 8 rebounds on Friday, Zaria Shazer posted another solid performance with 16 points on 6-for-8 from the floor.
Kiara Fisher, who stuffed the stat sheet with points, rebounds, assists, and turnovers in the win over Eastern Kentucky, finished with five points and joined Krick with a team-high five assists.
In all, 10 of the 12 Marist players that saw time in the game ended up on the scoresheet.
“It was great to see some of the younger girls out there getting some playing time,” Krick said. “It’s definitely really rewarding and a great feeling.”
North Florida’s leading scorer Lyric Swann had to leave the game late in the first quarter with an ankle injury and was not much of a factor when she returned, finishing with 12 points that all came when the game was already decided.
The Ospreys, perhaps a bit gassed from their 76-67 loss to Rider on Friday, struggled mightily from the floor shooting 27 percent and just 4-for-26 from three, putting up several airballs along the way.
Marist shot 7-for-11 in the first period and hopped out to a 19-13 lead after ten minutes.
Krick swished a transition three to make it 22-13 early in the second and Marist kept things moving with plenty of unselfish offense and reeled off a dominating 11-0 run, featuring scoring from Fisher and Shazer, that brought the advantage up to 33-15 with 4:34 left in the half.
The Ospreys, battling foul trouble and the injury to their star player, went on a six-plus minute scoring drought that included some missed opportunities as well as several turnovers and stifling defense from the Red Foxes.
After North Florida finally broke its drought, the Marist kept the onslaught going with six straight to finish the half and cap a 20-4 second quarter that saw the lead grow to 39-17 at the break.
The Ospreys were never able to threaten in the third, with the Red Foxes’ lead staying between 20 to 25 points for most of the period.
Marist’s three scholarship freshmen— Jackie Piddock, Morgan Tompkins, and Ciara Croker— got to see some time on the floor together, and while it was far from smooth sailing, it didn’t need to be, as the bench emptied in the fourth quarter.
Marist will have a full week to recover over the Thanksgiving Break before hosting Lafayette at the McCann Center on Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. The game will be part of Marist’s second annual Veterans Appreciation Day.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Andrew Hard