The annual Western New York road trip has three objectives for every non-Buffalo-based MAAC team. Travel to Buffalo, win the games, then leave.
While Marist started its two-game swing on a high note, the bus trip back to Poughkeepsie will feel even longer after a 65-61 loss to Canisius on Monday in a game that the Red Foxes never led.
For a lot of the afternoon, Marist trailed by at least two possessions despite never being down more than 10. Still, the Red Foxes had a shot to steal it at the end, but as was the case for the entire afternoon, they couldn’t quite execute.
Trailing by 10 with five minutes left, Marist cut the deficit to 52-46 after a four-point possession from Julianna Bonilla which saw her fail to finish a three-point play but score again after the team got the offensive rebound.
The Griffins had the answer, scoring four in a row to restore the lead to 56-48 with three minutes left.
Marist tried to extend the game through fouling and pressing, and through two foul shots from Kiara Fisher, brought the game to 60-56 with 27 seconds left. Then, after a lengthy review, the Red Foxes got the ball back after Canisius turned the ball over on an inbounds play.
Marist capitalized with a layup from Bonilla to make it 60-58 with 24 seconds left, and now, the game was very much on.
But then, after making her first attempt from the line, Canisius’ Lydia Gatozzi missed the second, but her teammate Dani Haskell tied up Zaria Shazer and won the ball on the alternate possession.
Sisi Eleko made the foul shots that eventually followed, extending the lead to 63-58 with 17 seconds left.
Fisher hit a three to make it 63-61 with three seconds left but Haskell was able to ice the game at the line for the home team.
Marist head coach Brian Giorgis is now 38-8 all-time against the Golden Griffins.
After turning the ball over 34 times against Niagara’s hard-pressing defense, Marist faced an opponent willing to sit back and defend in the half-court. While the turnovers dropped, the Red Foxes had trouble executing on offense, something they were able to do on Saturday when they didn’t give the ball away.
The Red Foxes (5-6, 1-1 in the MAAC) shot 34 percent from the field and just 2-for-12 from three-point range. Marist still has not outrebounded a team this season, losing 43-35 to the Griffins on the boards.
Under second-year head coach Sahar Nusseibeh, the Griffins have already shown signs of improvement from last season when they finished last in the league. On Saturday, Canisius won its conference opener at home against Rider.
On Monday against Marist, the Griffins proved to be the deeper and better-executing team, keeping the Red Foxes at arm’s length for most of the afternoon.
Sisi Eleko had a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds for the Griffins. Dani Haskell and Giana Hernandez-Boulden added 12 and 10 in the victory. Canisius shot 40 percent from the floor and 6-for-24 from three.
Kiara Fisher had another solid performance in a loss, finishing with 23 points on 7-for-16 shooting and hitting 8-for-10 from the charity stripe.
Zaria Shazer added 16 points for the Red Foxes but struggled from the floor, shooting 6-for-15 but making all four of her foul shots.
Kendall Krick chipped in with 10 and Bonilla added nine. Tellingly, those four players combined for 58 of Marist’s 61 total points. Canisius held a 31-1 advantage in contributions from the bench.
Marist began the game just 5-of-22 from the floor, including a 1-for-11 stretch to open the second quarter. The Red Foxes trailed by a possession or two for most of the first half, but a three from Giana Hernandez-Boulden extended the home team’s lead to 24-17 with 4:22 left and struck again a minute later to make it a 10-point game.
Marist was stuck on two points for the second quarter until the closing minutes when Krick mercifully broke the scoring drought with a layup. Even as the offense stopped backfiring, the Red Foxes could only trade baskets with Canisius and went into the locker room down 31-23 courtesy of a layup from Kiara Fisher at the buzzer.
Brian Giorgis’ team shot only 28 percent in the first half, and Canisius’s bench outscored Marist’s 19-0 over the first 20 minutes.
For much of the third quarter, the Red Foxes could not trim the deficit below five. Marist began to focus on getting the ball to Zaria Shazer and scoring from her and a three from Julianna Bonilla cut Canisius’s lead to 42-38 with 44 seconds left in the third. The Griffins answered with a two from Sisi Eleko to send them to the fourth up 44-38.
After this game, Marist will have a week-and-a-half break before returning to action on New Year’s Eve to host Iona. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the McCann Arena.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Marist Athletics