In search of their first conference victory of the season, the Red Foxes left Connecticut with the same goal, as the Fairfield Stags dominated throughout, winning 73-54 at home.
Fairfield came into this contest with 12 days off, and it certainly showed in the opening exchanges of the game. Marist was not only quicker to loose balls, but the Red Foxes were able to control the momentum early.
Marist got the scoring started with baskets from Patrick Gardner and Stephane Ingo in the paint. A few minutes later, Ingo would get another layup to establish their will on the interior. At the 15:10 mark in the first half, Marist led 11-4.
At the second media timeout in the first half, Patrick Gardner had to be helped off the floor by the Marist training staff. The leading scorer for the Red Foxes suffered some sort of lower leg injury, although it was difficult to tell the specifics and degree of the injury. Still, the Red Foxes led 13-10 just over eight minutes into the contest.
The Marist forward would end up going back to the locker room, but the team increased their advantage with him off the floor. Marist would outscore Fairfield 7-3 in the first few minutes with him [Gardner] on the sidelines, that was until the Stags began to get the ball inside.
Supreme Cook quickly became a major source of offense for Fairfield, as none of the Marist bigs had the strength to defend him one on one. The Preseason All-MAAC First Team selection used his physicality to get to the free throw line, hitting five straight shots from the charity stripe.
Patrick Gardner returned to the game at the 07:19 mark in the first half, looking to help Marist regain some of the momentum. That would not be the case, as the Stags continued to cause problems with their defensive intensity.
Fairfield guard Jake Wojcik hit a three pointer to give the Stags their first lead of the night at 21-20, which would only last for a few seconds before Gardner made consecutive layups. The home team would finish the half much stronger, scoring the final seven points to take a 28-24 lead into the locker room.
Turnovers were a major concern for Marist. The away team was losing that battle 12-1 in the opening 20 minutes. Most of the Fairfield offense was coming in transition off those mistakes, not against a set defense from the Red Foxes.
Though the problem seemed evident, Marist couldn’t find a way to fix their turnover trouble. Fairfield scored the first nine points after the break, giving themselves a 37-24 lead at the 15:16 mark.
The struggles for Marist on the offensive end also came with Fairfield’s ability to score the basketball more consistently, which created such a huge deficit. As soon as the Red Foxes changed to a 1-3-1 zone or a 3-2 zone, the Stags took the advantage from the perimeter.
TJ Long was certainly a beneficiary of that change in defensive structure, as the shooter got open looks from long distance. All five of his three-point makes came in the second half as Fairfield continued to pile on the scoring. With just over five minutes left in the game, the Stags took their largest lead of the night at 69-40.
Marist finished the game on a 14-4 run over the final minutes, showing their willingness to play until the final buzzer. But at that point, the result of the game had already been decided. The Red Foxes struggled on both ends of the floor for most of the game, leaving Fairfield with a much-deserved win.
TJ Long gave the Stags an early spark and he continued his strong play throughout the second half. The 6-foot-4 sophomore finished with a game-high 25 points on 10-for-18 shooting from the field and 5-for-11 shooting from three-point range.
Supreme Cook dominated play in the first half, finishing the game with 15 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field and seven rebounds. The big man also made seven of his ten free throw attempts in 22 minutes.
Isaiah Bricker was the standout for a Marist team that really struggled in all phases of the game against Fairfield. The freshman point guard had a career-high 15 points on 5-for-14 shooting from the field while also grabbing five rebounds.
The schedule won’t get any easier for the Red Foxes, as the team will return to action against the Iona Gaels on Jan. 6. Iona was unanimously selected in the preseason to repeat as regular season champions in the MAAC, a tough test for Marist. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at McCann Arena.
Edited by Dan Aulbach
Photo From Marist Athletics