Dominant Defense Triumphs Columbia

The Red Foxes maintained control of the lead in a gritty first half and surged in the second, defeating the Columbia Lions 52-39 on Monday to earn their second straight non-conference win.   

Playing strong defense has always been a priority under the coaching of John Dunne. For the second consecutive game, the Marist men’s basketball team showed what they are capable of on that end of the floor. 

“A win is a win. We’re happy to get it, didn’t matter to me what the score was at halftime,”  coach Dunne said. “We were up 12. Yeah we missed a lot of shots, but our defense was really, really good.”

Marist had a start for the ages in this game, more or less because of their defensive intensity. Columbia got some good shots off in the opening minutes of the game, but a lot of their looks were contested. The Red Foxes were locked in; it showed with the consistent effort on each possession. 

Forward Javon Cooley opened the scoring with a three-pointer, and Marist would end up scoring the first 13 points of the game. Columbia would not see the ball go through the net until 09:05 remained in the first half, when Zavian McLean connected on a free throw. 

Less than a minute later, the crowd was brought to their feet after Noah Harris found Rollin Belton charging to the rim. The center [Belton] received a perfect alley-oop pass from Harris, slamming the ball home to give Marist a 15-1 lead.

The struggles to score continued for the Lions as Marist slowly but surely grew their lead. Columbia’s first field goal make came with 05:50 left in the first half, as a three-pointer from Geronimo Rubio De La Rosa ended that cold streak. 

Marist led by as many as 15 in the first half, but a three-pointer with less than a minute remaining cut the deficit back to 12. At the break, the Red Foxes led by a score of 22-10.

Columbia shot 2-for-24 from the field and 2-for-12 from three-point range in the first half. Both of their field goal makes came from De La Rosa, who had a team-high six points at the break. It was not a strong performance from the Lions to that point. 

While Marist had a sizable advantage through 20 minutes of action, coach Dunne would have loved to see his team be a bit more efficient in the scoring department. The Red Foxes were 9-for-33 from the field and 4-for-17 from beyond the arc in the first half. 

One would think it was inevitable that some of those easy looks would eventually fall for the Lions. Following suit, Columbia made their first field goal of the second half exactly two minutes in on a layup from Avery Brown.

Columbia got within nine points on two separate occasions in the first four minutes of the second half, but the Red Foxes stayed strong and went on a run of their own. Before they knew it, a three from Patrick Gardner capped off a 7-2 run to give Marist a 34-20 lead with 14:37 left in the game. 

The Red Foxes pulled away midway through the second half, as ten straight points from Kam Farris and Jaden Daughtry extended the lead to 20. It was a big night for Farris in particular, who had yet to have a scoring outburst since opening night against American. The transfer from Robert Morris would finish the game with 11 points. 

Late into the second half, Columbia began to implement some full court pressure to try and get themselves a few easy opportunities in transition. The Lions had some success with that, turning Marist over and attacking the defense before it was set. 

The lead would eventually dwindle to ten with over three minutes left in the game, but Columbia would not have enough time to overcome the deficit. Marist forward Tyler Saint-Furcy scored the final field goal of the contest, and the game would finish as a 13-point victory for the Red Foxes.

“We came ready to play right from the tip-off. I just think we were locked in mentally and physically,” Marist center Patrick Gardner said. “When we’re locked in, the sky’s the limit for us.” 

Stephane Ingo, who transferred to Marist from the University of Maine, could be questionable to face his former team in London this weekend. The 6-foot-9 center was seen on the edge of the bench with his left foot wrapped in ice throughout the second half of Monday’s contest. “I don’t know. Jeff [Carter] said he had to see a podiatrist tomorrow,” Dunne said about the state of Ingo’s injury.

Marist will return to action against the Maine Black Bears of the America East Conference on 

Dec. 4. The game will be a part of the Basketball Hall of Fame London Showcase, hosted at the O2 Arena in London, England. Tip-off is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Edited By Dan Aulbach

Photo From Marist Athletics

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