The conversations revolving around the Marist men’s basketball continue to be about the overall scoring of the group. At times, it looked really promising for the Red Foxes on Friday night, but it was not there for all 40 minutes. Marist started strong, but a rough shooting performance in the second led to a 68-52 blowout loss at the hands of the Rider Broncs.
Marist got off to such a great start because of two things: their ability to score at the rim and their post defense. The Red Foxes put an emphasis on getting a majority of their shots at the rim, a strategy that resulted in a lot of success. Isaiah Brickner and Jaden Daughtry were able to get to the paint, helping Marist get out to an 18-7 lead.
On the defensive end, the Red Foxes sent a second defender as soon as a Rider big got the ball in the paint. The Broncs were unable to pass out of the post more often than not, resulting in a few turnovers right out of the gate. That allowed the guards for Marist to get out in transition, helping them find some easy baskets.
“We were getting into the paint, the ball was moving. I thought we had great energy, shots were going in so energy was even better. I felt we controlled the paint on both ends of the floor,” Dunne said about his team’s strong start.
With their backs against the wall, Rider head coach Kevin Baggett leaned on his second unit to get them back into the game. The Broncs did just that, turning an 11-point deficit into a six-point game in just over four minutes of action.
Baggett would check his starters back into the game, a decision that would pay off immediately. Mervin James, Allan Betrand and Dwight Murray Jr. combined for eight straight points, giving Rider a 29-28. Marist would regain the lead following two free throws, giving the Red Foxes a slim 30-29 advantage at the break.
Despite trailing by as many as 14 in the first half, the Broncs showcased their depth with their ability to trim the lead down, slowly but surely. Marist led at the half, but an extended run from Rider was on the cards.
Rider took the momentum they got late in the first half and carried right over in the beginning of the second. Murray Jr. hit a three-pointer on the left wing, giving the Broncs a 32-30 lead. Brickner answered with a jumper, tying the game. That would be as close as Marist got for the remainder of the night.
That run from the veteran Rider team came quickly, and Marist struggled to respond. The Broncs scored 15 consecutive points in three plus minutes, taking all the energy out of the arena. With over 13 minutes left in the game, the Red Foxes trailed 47-32.
“We told them at halftime that those guys [Rider] were going to come out playing a lot harder in the second half and we needed to match their intensity. Unfortunately, we didn’t. When the half doesn’t start well and you’re not making shots, your energy deflates,” coach Dunne said.
With over 13 minutes left, Marist had more than enough time to begin the process of turning the game around. But instead, Rider kept the pressure on the young Red Foxes and they had no answer. After Salton connected on a three-pointer, the Broncs scored the next 10 points, stretching their lead out to 22 points.
A late push for Marist would cut it back to as low as a 12-point deficit, but the comeback came too late. All the damage had been done in the opening minutes of the second half, leaving Marist with another tough pill to swallow.
Marist held their own in the first half, but a lack of shot making in the second put the team in a tough situation. The Red Foxes shot 25.8% percent from the field and 23.5% percent from three-point range after halftime. It is increasingly tough to beat teams in the MAAC when you shoot at that level, especially against a battle-tested Rider squad.
Trace Salton had his best performances of the season, scoring a career-high 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field with seven rebounds in 26 minutes. “I was really happy for him. He was making shots, I thought he had great energy,” Dunne said about Salton.
Marist will finish off their two-game home stand on Sunday, Jan. 29 against the Siena Saints. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at the McCann Center. The Saints will look to get Javian McCollum back, who missed Friday’s win against Iona.
Edited By Dan Aulbach
Photo From Marist Athletics