On a busy Thursday of MAAC play, Marist women’s basketball overcame the first-half absence of Kiara Fisher and scored an important 56-43 win over Manhattan at the McCann Center to level its league record and put the Red Foxes squarely in the middle of the conference standings.
After seeing a narrow halftime lead turn into a 21-point loss on Saturday against Iona, the Red Foxes flipped the script against the Jaspers, turning around a halftime deficit thanks to a defensive effort that held the visitors to 16 second-half points on just 6-for-28 shooting.
Fisher, Marist’s starting point guard, was conspicuously absent for the first 20 minutes of the game due to a violation of team rules. She was suspended for being late to practice earlier in the week.
Brian Giorgis’s starting lineup had remained unchanged through the first 12 games of the season, but freshman point guard Jackie Piddock earned her first career start in Fisher’s first-half absence.
Piddock played most of the first half, dishing out three assists but failing to register on the scoresheet.
From a balance perspective, the Red Foxes certainly missed Fisher. After a game to forget against Iona, Kendall Krick scored 10 consecutive first-quarter points as the early lead went back and forth. Krick and Zaria Shazer combined to score Marist’s first 16 points before a layup from Catie Cunningham with 6:15 left in the second quarter.
Shazer would go on to secure a double-double, finishing with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Jaspers went ahead 22-16 after a steal and jumper from Bella Nascimiento with just under seven minutes left in the first half.
In response, Marist dug in on defense and tied the game at 22 courtesy of a layup from Shazer. Despite holding Manhattan scoreless for over five minutes, the Red Foxes couldn’t capitalize further and five points from Christina Katsamouri propelled the Jaspers into the break with a 27-24 lead.
Fisher’s presence undoubtedly helped turn things around, as Marist reeled off the first six points of the second half, with a three from Julianna Bonilla giving the Red Foxes a 30-27 lead just over two minutes into the third quarter.
Fisher finished with nine points and four assists in 17 minutes of action.
Both teams struggled to put the ball in the hoop for most of the third, with neither side scoring for one two-and-a-half-minute stretch. The Jaspers edged back a 35-34 lead with 21 seconds left in the quarter before Fisher answered with a driving layup at the horn to give her team a one-point lead heading into the fourth.
Neither team had led by more than two possessions. The Red Foxes used back-to-back threes from Bonilla and Krick to build a 44-39 lead and force a Jaspers timeout with 7:10 remaining.
Bonilla continued to show a penchant for making timely shots, adding six points and making two of her team’s four three-pointers.
Marist extended its fourth-quarter lead to 49-41 with a free-throw step-back jumper from Fisher with 4:14 left and continued to hold firm on the defensive end. The Jaspers chose the worst time to stop making shots, enduring a six-and-a-half-minute field goal drought that finally ended after Jade Blasgrove made a layup to make it 49-43 with 1:39 left.
Marist had to deal with a drought of its own, but after the Jaspers missed a gift-wrapped opportunity off a turnover, Fisher made them pay with a layup that restored the eight-point lead with just under a minute left. From there, the Red Foxes had no trouble putting the game to bed.
Krick recaptured memories from her strong senior night performance against the Jaspers last season and finished with 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting in 37 minutes of action. She also drew the assignment of defending Manhattan’s star guard Dee Dee Davis and held her to seven points on just 2-for-8 shooting.
Marist (6-7, 2-2 in the MAAC) shot 36 percent from the floor and 4-of-12 from three-point range while making 12-of-17 from the charity stripe.
The Red Foxes held their own on the glass against the Jaspers, one of the better rebounding teams in the league. Marist outrebounded the Jaspers 43-37 and grabbed 14 offensive boards to Manhattan’s 12.
Marist will travel up to Albany to face rival Siena on Saturday afternoon. The Saints are among the early leaders in the MAAC, sitting at 3-1 in conference play. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Marist Athletics