Defense is something that’s almost come to be taken for granted around the Marist women’s basketball program. But, after getting torched for the second consecutive game, the Red Foxes are realizing just how difficult it is to win if they can’t get stops.
Marist suffered an 81-60 defeat to Vermont in Burlington on Sunday afternoon, allowing the Catamounts to shoot 57 percent from the floor and 13-of-24 from the three-point line.
The Red Foxes allowed 103 points in a heavy 49-point loss at Columbia on Thursday, and while they avoided surrendering triple digits on Sunday, the defensive execution was lacking once again.
The game saw Brian Giorgis matched up with his former point guard Alisa Kresge, who has had the Vermont head coaching job since 2019 after beginning her coaching career at her alma mater. Last season, Marist got the better of the Catamounts in Poughkeepsie, but this time, the student prevailed over the teacher.
Kiara Fisher led Marist (3-5) with 21 points and shot 8-for-10 from the floor. Zaria Shazer overcame a slow start and added 17 to go along with five assists. Kendall Krick was the other Red Foxes player in double-figures with 13.
Of the four other Marist players that scored, none had more than three points.
The Red Foxes shot 39 percent from the floor and 4-for-11 from three. They shot exceptionally well at the foul line (18-for-19) but once again struggled on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 33-24.
Catherine Gilwee paced Vermont with 20 points and shot an ultra-efficient 6-for-7 from long-distance. The Catamounts displayed both the balance and ball movement that Marist sometimes struggles to produce.
Vermont had five other players score more than eight points and assisted on 24 of their 30 made shots.
It looked like things might go south quickly for the Red Foxes. The Catamounts built a quick 10-4 lead three minutes in and continued to cash in on open shots that came from good ball movement.
Marist hung in, shooting 7-for-13 in the first quarter and getting 11 points from Fisher, but a three from Vermont’s Delaney Richardson made it 26-20 after the first ten minutes.
Even though the Red Foxes weren’t shooting the ball poorly, the Catamounts continued to strike from deep. Gilwee drained a triple to cap an 11-3 run to start the second quarter and make it 37-23 with just over five minutes left in the half.
Marist did its best to stop the bleeding with Fisher hitting a jumper with just over three minutes left to bring it to 39-28 but the Red Foxes continued to be a step late with their defensive rotations, allowing another three on the other end of the floor.
There was a scary moment near the end of the first half when Sam Bailey took an elbow to the face from a Catamounts player. The play was reviewed and ruled a flagrant foul with Bailey having to come off the floor to get treatment for a bloody nose. Fisher added to her impressive first half with the two free throws that were awarded to Marist and added a layup on the next possession as the Red Foxes went into the locker room down 44-33.
Fisher, Shazer, and Krick were the only Red Foxes to find the scoring column in the first half while Vermont put eight players on the stat sheet and shot 9-for-12 from three-point range.
A pair of foul shots from Krick brought the Red Foxes to within 46-39 early in the second half. Marist defended with more intensity but fell into an offensive lull and Vermont re-extended the lead to 55-41 with a layup from Olson with just under four minutes left in the quarter.
Again, the Red Foxes didn’t let things get away from them but the Catamounts went into the fourth with a comfortable 60-48 edge.
While Marist entered the final quarter with a chance to get back into the game, Vermont quickly went about giving itself some real breathing room. Richardson and Gilwee both struck from deep as part of a 12-4 run that made it 72-52 with six minutes left to play.
The Red Foxes will try to get things fixed on the defensive end in time for a trip to Washington D.C. to face American on Saturday afternoon. After that, Marist will dive into MAAC play with the Buffalo swing against Niagara and Canisius after finals week.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Marist Athletics