Coming off a victory against Mount St. Mary’s on Jan. 8, Marist stacked wins Friday night for the first time in over a month against Canisius. The Red Foxes had a balanced scoring attack all night, but their strong defense in the second half proved to be the difference in the end. Marist led for over 31 minutes of the contest, finishing the game off with a 76-58 victory on the road.
Last season’s Western New York trip was one that did not go as planned for the Marist men’s basketball team. Needing just one win to secure a first-round bye in Atlantic City, the Red Foxes lost consecutive games at Canisius and Niagara. The team finished as the six seed in the MAAC, and would wind up losing their opening game of the postseason against Quinnipiac. Tonight, the energy shifted for the Red Foxes, looking above and beyond proficient on both sides of the court.
Patrick Gardner began the game with a short jumper in the paint, which he was also fouled on. He made the free throw, giving Marist an early 3-0 lead. The ball ended up in the hands of Gardner as a result of excellent ball movement, something the Red Foxes would show all game.
Despite some mistakes on the defensive end, Canisius was able to hang in there because of their three-point shooting. Marist head coach John Dunne called an early timeout after Tahj Staveskie hit a wide open three, the Golden Griffins third triple of the game. The Red Foxes went under every screen at the top of the key, leaving plenty of space to get open looks.
As the half went on, more and more of the offensive sets for Marist centered around the rest of the players instead of Gardner. With so much attention on the center, Javon Cooley and Noah Harris were given all the space in the world to get clean looks.
During a four minute stretch in the first half, Harris scored nine points, all coming on three-pointers. The guard came off a screen at the 7:56 mark and knocked down the triple to give Marist a 28-22 lead.
But despite leading by as many as nine points, the Golden Griffins were the better team to end the half, finishing the half on a 5-0 run, cutting the deficit to one. Harris had 12 first half points as Marist led 38-37.
The Red Foxes were as efficient as ever in the opening 20 minutes, getting nine assists on 13 field goal makes. Marist shot 52% from the field and 50% from three, helping them score so often in the half.
Canisius continued their strong play at the end of the first into the beginning of the second half, scoring eight of the first 10 points to take a 45-40 lead at the 17:16 mark. Marist got back to what worked so well in the first half, leaning on their ball movement to create better shots.
The trio of Gardner, Cooley and Harris would score the next 13 points for the Red Foxes, regaining the momentum in quick fashion. After two made free throws from Gardner, Marist was up 53-49 with just under 12 minutes left.
From that point on, it was all about Marist on both ends of the floor. The defense was the catalyst to a huge run for the Red Foxes, as Canisius just simply had no answer for their intensity on that end of the floor.
On a pivotal possession in the game, Brickner drove the length of the floor before finishing with contact in the lane. That three-point play would give Marist a seven-point lead, one they would never surrender.
As the game winded down, the Red Foxes continued to build on their advantage. The lead would grow to as many as 20 in the final minutes, but Marist would have to settle for the 18-point victory as the buzzer sounded.
Gardner had a slow start by his standards in the first half, but the Marist big man finished with one of his more efficient scoring performances of the season. The 6-foot-11 center had a game-high 26 points on 11-for-15 shooting in 36 minutes.
Harris was firing on all cylinders with his perimeter shooting against the Golden Griffins, adding 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field and 4-for-6 shooting from three. Cooley scored 13 points with four three-pointers, and Brickner had nine points, five rebounds and eight assists.
The overall team performance against Canisius showed what Marist is capable as a group. Gardner has led the way throughout the year, but the rest of the team is more than capable of holding their own. If the Red Foxes are able to create good looks and take care of the ball, it won’t be long before they climb up the conference standings.
Marist will get its opportunity to sweep the two-game road trip on Sunday, Jan. 15, against the Niagara Purple Eagles. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. at the Gallagher Center.
Photo From Marist Athletics
Edited By Dan Aulbach