There’s no such thing as an easy game in the MAAC. It’s a cliche but one that Marist women’s basketball had to be mindful of coming into a matchup with Saint Peter’s.
The Red Foxes didn’t put together their best game but they took care of business on the road with a 59-43 victory against a Peacocks team that is still searching for their first win of the season.
It wasn’t all good news for Marist. Starting point guard Kiara Fisher picked up a left shoulder injury in the second quarter after coming up with a steal. She came back in a few minutes later, but her night ended in the third quarter after she aggravated her shoulder. Fisher did return to sit on the bench after getting treatment.
With Fisher in and out because of her shoulder, her longtime friend and teammate Zaria Shazer put together one of the best all-around games of her career, flirting with a triple-double and finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists.
With the Peacocks playing a lot of 2-3 zone, Shazer found herself camping out in the all-important high post where she was able to draw the defenders in and dish to teammates for open looks.
Saint Peter’s 2-3 zone played into Marist’s hands. The Red Foxes have struggled with ball movement this season, but against the mostly zone look they assisted 20 times on 25 made shots, a far cry from the 20 percent assist rate they posted last time out against Siena.
Shazer dished to Maeve Donnelly for an easy layup and then scored herself to make it 55-38 with 3:33 left and put the game out of reach. She exited with just over two minutes left meaning that first career triple-double would have to wait.
The 6-foot-5 Donnelly had one of her best games of the season, posting 12 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. She still has to find some composure when it comes to finishing contested looks over smaller players but her performance in Jersey City could serve as a confidence booster.
Kendall Krick was the third Marist player in double figures finishing the evening with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Marist (7-8, 3-3 in the MAAC) shot 42 percent for the game, cooling off in the later stages. The Red Foxes made 5-of-16 shots from beyond the arc.
Two seasons ago, Saint Peter’s found itself with a chance to get to the NCAA Tournament if it could beat Marist in the MAAC Championship. The Red Foxes won easily but the Peacocks exacted a small measure of revenge when they beat Marist by 20 in the opening round of last year’s MAAC Tournament.
That turned out to be the last time the program won a game. After the season ended, head coach Marc Mitchell left to take a job at the Division II level. New hire Jennifer Leedham inherited a roster full of inexperience, resulting in a season full of growing pains.
Saint Peter’s (0-15, 0-6 in the MAAC) struggled to get much going on offense, shooting just 26 percent and 4-for-20 from three. Jada Leonard led the hosts with 12 points.
Marist eclipsed its assist total from its previous game against Siena less than 10 seconds into the second quarter when Julianna Bonilla found Shazer for a layup and an 18-10 lead. The Red Foxes kept the Peacocks at arm’s length with Fisher hitting a three to make it 25-15 with just over five minutes left in the half.
The Peacocks threw multiple defensive looks at the Red Foxes, who once again had issues hanging on to the basketball. While Shazer put Marist up 27-15 after Fisher’s three, the visitors had to settle for a 31-22 halftime lead because of 11 first-half giveaways to go along with the same number of assists.
Marist held Saint Peter’s scoreless for the first five minutes of the second half, slowly building the lead to 37-22. The Peacocks came up with four in a row after Fisher came out of the game, but the Red Foxes responded through inside scoring from Donnelly and Shazer and took a 43-29 lead into the final quarter.
After Saint Peter’s made it 45-34 early in the fourth, Marist re-gained some breathing room courtesy of three-point field goals from Bonilla and Jackie Piddock to make it 51-34 with 7:12 left in the game.
The Red Foxes return to the friendly confines of the McCann Center to take on perennial MAAC rival Fairfield on Saturday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Marist Athletics