Matchups between Marist and Saint Peter’s typically wind up being games that are physical and have plenty of stoppages. Friday night was no different with the teams combining to commit 46 fouls.
Marist had their opportunities to put the game away in the second half, but it would end up slipping away late as Saint Peter’s came out on top 61-57.
“Super disappointing loss. I’m disappointed for the guys in the locker room that showed up and competed. They’re [Saint Peter’s] eighth in the country in offensive rebounding, so 18 offensive rebounds hurt us,” head coach John Dunne said.
Marist entered the 2022-23 season with a lot of new faces, something that has been well-documented over the last few months. The Red Foxes were not alone in this major transition, as many teams in the conference were also experiencing a roster overhaul as a result of the transfer portal.
Saint Peter’s came into this season in a situation that was very similar to what Marist experienced. Seven of their top nine scorers from a year ago left the program after their improbable run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. That does not even include the biggest change, as head coach Shaheen Holloway left to return to his alma mater Seton Hall.
The Peacocks, like Marist, were put in a position to rebuild their program under the coaching of Bashir Mason. That process has brought some challenges, but Saint Peter’s has played a lot of teams close in MAAC play so far.
It was quite a slow start for both teams in terms of scoring the basketball. Marist spent a lot of time trying to beat the full-court press of Saint Peter’s, while the Red Foxes were able to contest almost every shot the Peacocks took. At the under-12 media timeout, Saint Peter’s led 11-6.
Despite their lack of scoring in the first half, Marist was able to stay in the game because of two things: their ability to get to the free throw line and hit timely jump shots. Saint Peter’s put pressure on Noah Harris, Isaiah Brickner, and Kam Farris as soon as they got the ball, forcing the Red Foxes to take a lot of time before getting into their offensive sets.
When the guards for Marist were able to get inside the three-point line, they were able to create better looks for Patrick Gardner at the high post or even just at either block. Despite trailing for over 13 minutes in the first half, Marist went into the break tied at 22-22.
After Saint Peter’s scored the first four points of the second half, Harris began to take matters into his own hands.
The sophomore got his first two points of the half on a jumper from about 18 feet, allowing two Peacocks to fly by as he showed the patience to rise up following their rushed contest.
On Marist’s next possession, Harris found space at the top of the key, rising up and knocking down the three-pointer to tie the game at 27-27.
Gardner would follow up those two baskets with a triple of his own, and all of a sudden, Marist jumped out to a three-point lead. The big man may have struggled to get his points early, but he continued to stick with it.
The 6-foot-11 center would have one of his best moments of the night with just over 11 minutes left in the game, but not as a scorer. Gardner found a slashing Javon Cooley, who hammered a ferocious dunk home over Saint Peter’s forward Cam Young.
All the momentum was in favor of Marist, yet it still felt like Saint Peter’s had more than enough to put a run together. The Peacocks were able to take advantage of their second chances, eventually regaining the lead at 50-49 following two made free throws from Isaiah Dasher.
The two teams traded body blows, eventually resulting in the contest being tied at 55-55 with 1:13 left. After some great on-ball defense from Brickner, Saint Peter’s guard Jaylen Murray hit an off-balanced jumper from just inside the three-point line to regain the lead.
Brickner would make two consecutive free throws to tie the game back up, but the Peacocks showed a ton of resiliency on the ensuing possession. With the crowd getting louder and louder, Saint Peter’s was able to get the ball in the hands of their leading scorer. Dasher got the ball on the wing, hitting a shot as Cooley was draped all over him. 15 seconds remained as Marist trialed 59-57.
After a timeout, Brickner got the ball off the inbound pass. The guard was able to get downhill, but the possession would come to a halt after the ball went out of bounds. The referees would go to monitor, where they would find out that Brickner was the last player to touch the ball.
Saint Peter’s would receive the possession, and knock down two free throws to all but win the game. For large portions of the night, Marist was in position to win its fourth straight conference game. But credit to the Peacocks, who hung in there after going down by as many as eight in the second half.
“If you’re going to win close games, you have to make the opponents earn the buckets. For a few minutes, we weren’t making them earn it. Those last two that they made we crazy shots, contested. Those last two defensive possession were excellent, they just made big-time shots,” Dunne said.
Harris had another good performance for the Red Foxes, scoring a joint team-high 15 points on 4-for-9 shooting from the field and 3-for-7 shooting from three.
Gardner also had 15 points and added five rebounds, and two blocks in 34 minutes.
Marist won’t have to wait long to respond after the loss, as the team will be back in action at the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers on Jan. 22. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at Knott Arena.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Kira Crutcher