The city that derailed Marist men’s basketball last season might be where the Red Foxes turned their 2022-23 campaign around.
Marist completed a sweep of the annual Buffalo swing with a thrilling 66-64 win over Niagara in the final seconds on Sunday afternoon at the Gallagher Center.
With the game tied at 64 and a slight difference between the shot clock and the game block, Patrick Gardner capped off a 31-point performance with a fadeaway baseline jumper to put the Red Foxes up by two with seven seconds left.
Without any timeouts remaining, Niagara’s Noah Thomasson rushed the ball up the court but his attempt at a game-winning three came up just short.
The Purple Eagles didn’t have an answer for Gardner, who shot 11-for-16 from the floor and 7-for-8 from the foul line in 31 minutes of action. He scored his team’s final seven points including a three to tie the game at 62 with 1:45 left and a pair of free throws to knot things at 64 with a minute left.
As a team, Marist (7-9, 3-4 in the MAAC) shot 24-for-45 (53 percent) from the field and 7-for-17 from three. Kam Farris came off the bench to add 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting including two makes from beyond the arc.
Thomasson had a team-high 19 for Niagara (9-8, 4-4 in the MAAC) and stuffed the stat sheet with nine assists and seven rebounds.
The Red Foxes rode the momentum from Friday’s win against Canisius to an early 19-11 lead after Farris hit a three with 9:05 left in the first half. The Purple Eagles worked their way back into things and took a 29-26 lead after Bryce Moore hit a triple with 59 seconds left in the half.
Isaiah Brickner answered with a layup to make it a one-point halftime deficit for Marist.
The game seesawed back and forth for much of the second half. Gardner tripled to give the Red Foxes a 43-38 lead with 14:13 remaining. Once again, Niagara worked its way back into the game and a three from Lance Erving gave the home team a 60-57 advantage with 2:51 left.
After getting thrashed by Iona last Friday, the Red Foxes were 4-9 overall and 0-4 in conference play. Since then, Marist has won three games in a row and now sits in the middle of the MAAC and in contention for a spot in the top five.
Last season, the Red Foxes entered the Buffalo swing on a six-game winning streak but fell to Canisius and Niagara before losing in the first round of the MAAC Tournament. Marist will hope that this year’s success in Western New York boosts the team as the season progresses.
The Red Foxes will go for four in a row when they face Saint Peter’s on Friday night at the McCann Center. The Peacocks are a completely different team from last year’s squad that made the Elite Eight and are 7-11 overall and 2-7 in the MAAC.
Photo From Carolo Pascale of the Rider News