It’s officially an improvement.
Marist women’s basketball eclipsed last season’s win total and completed its first sweep of the season with a 69-43 victory over hapless Saint Peter’s on Saturday evening at McCann Arena.
“It was a really good team win tonight,” Marist head coach Brian Giorgis said after the game. “On a night where Kiara (Fisher) and Zaria (Shazer) struggled from the field…everybody else stepped up.”
It was one of those games where the Red Foxes had to hold serve at home. Win a game they were expected to win. Marist had a 16-point lead by halftime and continued to pull even further away in the third quarter, allowing the reserves to get some valuable time late in the proceedings.
The Red Foxes won only eight games in the 2021-22 season, but with Saturday’s win, Giorgis’ team finds itself at 9-10 overall and 5-5 in the MAAC. Midway through the conference schedule, Marist sits squarely in sixth place with more than a game of separation between both the top five and bottom five of the league.
“It feels good,” graduate guard Kendall Krick said of going over last year’s win total. “We know this is a much different team from last year and we’re just trying to build off that.”
The Red Foxes shot 36 percent from the floor and made 9-of-29 from three-point range. It wasn’t an overwhelmingly great shooting performance, but Marist made 5-of-6 from three in the third quarter to help put the game away.
Marist also moved the ball very well, distributing 19 helpers on 26 made field goals. Kiara Fisher dished out a game-high five assists.
Krick led the way with a game-high 20 points, making 6-of-9 from beyond the arc.
When the teams met earlier in the month, Zaria Shazer nearly posted a triple-double. On Saturday, she didn’t fare as well but didn’t need to. Marist’s leading-scorer on the season finished with eight points on 3-of-12 shooting and added seven rebounds.
Marist has had its struggles with balance this season but for the first time in what felt like quite a while, multiple bench players made substantial contributions.
Sam Bailey logged some of her best minutes of the season and finished with nine points in 15 minutes of action. Tellingly, her team was plus-26 when she was on the floor.
“It was great to see players like Sam (Bailey), Jackie (Piddock), and Morgan (Tompkins) play so well,” Krick said. “I think that’s something we’re gonna need for the rest of the season.”
Morgan Tompkins had the best game of her young career, posting six points and five rebounds in 15 minutes.
“I thought the freshmen did a really good job tonight,” Giorgis said. “Morgan came flying in with some great second-chance opportunities… It was great to see the stars pushing other people.”
The Red Foxes controlled the rebounding battle, enjoying a significant height advantage and besting the Peacocks 53-33 on the glass. Marist pulled in 22 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second-chance points.
Saint Peter’s (0-20, 0-11 in the MAAC) struggled all night long, shooting 32 from the floor and 5-for-19 from three-point range. The Peacocks also scored 43 in the first meeting between the teams this season.
The Red Foxes gave up the first basket of the game but found their footing after a few minutes. Fisher dished out a trio of assists in the early going, twice finding Krick for open threes. Krick’s three first-quarter triples were the bulk of a 13-0 Marist run that helped the Red Foxes to a 17-6 lead after ten minutes.
While the hosts had numerous chances to put more separation between themselves and the visitors, Marist struggled from the field in the second quarter and the Peacocks stayed in the periphery, cutting the lead to 27-18 with a three from Amaris Mills with 3:08 left in the first half.
The Red Foxes wouldn’t let Saint Peter’s any closer, using a five-point possession (a Shazer miss on an and-one led to a Fisher three) to stretch the lead up to 32-18. Bailey capped off a strong first half off the bench with a layup off a nice feed from Fisher to send Marist into the half with a 34-18 advantage.
The Red Foxes stretched the lead up to 39-20 just over two minutes into the second half with a three from Julianna Bonilla and a mid-range jumper from Krick, who would add to her account a few minutes later with two consecutive threes to make it 47-25 midway through the third quarter.
The role players helped expand the lead late in the third with Bailey hitting a three and Tompkins finishing in transition to make it 59-30 heading into the final period.
With the starters’ services no longer needed, the Marist youth movement spent most of the fourth quarter playing together on the floor with the luxury of knowing that the outcome was already secure. When Jayne Whitman and Samantha Chadwick checked in with under four minutes left, every Red Fox that dressed saw action.
McKenna Rife hit a jumper from the short corner to end the scoring and put a bow on the victory.
Marist will end its three-game homestand when they host Mount St. Mary’s on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Marist Athletics