With the way the Marist men’s basketball team played on Friday night’s loss against Iona, head coach John Dunne was looking for his team to respond in a big way against the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers Sunday afternoon. The Red Foxes played well throughout, as a dominant second-half performance helped them to a 63-56 victory that broke a five-game losing streak.
Marist now has an overall record of 5-9, with a conference record of 1-4 following today’s victory. They came up against a Mount St. Mary’s team that has some big wins this season, but the Red Foxes were able to make enough plays to outperform the Mountaineers.
Marist has played well this season when they have multiple guys scoring the basketball consistently. Patrick Gardner has always been able to get his, but the rest of the team has struggled in that department. That was not the case against Mount St. Mary’s, as Marist got 22 bench points to ultimately help them to a win.
Gardner was excellent against the Mountaineers, scoring a game-high 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field and 3-for-6 shooting from three-point range. That was the sixth time that he scored 20 or more points this season.
Kam Farris had a solid game as well, chipping in with 12 points and 4-for-11 shooting from the field and 3-for-8 shooting from long distance. Tyler Saint-Furcy and Noah Harris combined for 16 points, most of which came in the second half.
The goal for the Red Foxes on the defensive end was to contain leading scorer Jalen Benjamin, and they did for 38 minutes of the game. The Preseason All-MAAC Third Team selection was held to single digits until the final minutes of the contest, as the Marist guards were able to frustrate him. Benjamin could not get in a rhythm as a result of foul trouble, forcing him to get just 23 minutes of action.
It was a slow start for both teams on the offensive end, as neither Marist nor Mount St. Mary’s was able to generate a lot of scoring in the opening minutes. Good looks were being created, but they were just simply not falling. Marist led 3-2 at the first media timeout, despite shooting 1-for-9 from the field.
Marist continued to have a slender lead throughout the first half, as the Mountaineers were never able to string consecutive baskets together. A lot of that was due to the Red Foxes crashing the offensive glass with Stephane Ingo and Patrick Gardner. Mount St. Mary’s was without 6-foot-9 Malik Jefferson, who missed the game with a separated shoulder. His absence was certainly felt against the size of Ingo and Gardner.
The Red Foxes led by 22-17 with 3:24 left in the first half, looking for a strong finish before the break. For a team that had played so well for 16 minutes and change, that was all coach Dunne could ask for. Unfortunately for Marist, the Mountainers had the better finish, ending the first on an 11-1 run to lead 28-23 at the half.
Despite the halftime deficit, Marist had to feel good about their overall performance on both ends. The team could have executed a bit better, but they did show a lot of promise in the opening 20 minutes. The Red Foxes were winning the rebound battle 20-17, grabbing eight offensive rebounds along the way.
The beginning of the second half was nip and tuck, as Mount St. Mary’s was able to retain their advantage for a few minutes. Both teams began to score the ball at more of an efficient rate, though Marist would still trail by a possession or two.
Marist tied the game at 38-38 following a three-pointer from Kam Farris. That would not be the only time he hit a big shot in the second half, as he would give his team a one-point lead with another triple. With 11:59 remaining, the Red Foxes led 41-40. They would not surrender the lead for the rest of the game.
The Mountaineers would hang around for a matter of minutes, as the teams traded baskets. With 6:20 left in the game, Marist led 50-44 following a three-point make from Javon Cooley.
With more than six minutes left in the contest, Marist had the chance to put the game away with a run. The Red Foxes were led by senior forward Tyler Saint-Furcy, who gave the team a major lift down the stretch.
Marist led 48-44, but just over two minutes later, they were ahead by eight after two baskets from Saint-Furcy. He put the ball in his left hand as he drove to the basket, finishing at the rim.
Coming off a forced turnover, Saint-Furcy had possession of the ball in the middle of the floor. He continued to push it in transition, finding Gardner to his right, who finished with a two-handed slam to Marist a 56-46 lead with under four minutes left.
Mount St. Mary’s had to play a bit quicker with the clock winding down, which allowed Marist to control the pace of its offensive possessions. Jalen Benjamin would hit a few three-pointers to cut the deficit to as low as six, but that would be all. Kam Farris would hit a free throw to make it a three-possession game, helping his team hold on for the seven-point victory.
Marist will get a few days off before they head up to Buffalo for the two-game road trip that derailed the team last season. The Red Foxes face off against the Canisius Golden Griffins on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the Koessler Athletic Center.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Marist Athletics