On a night where Patrick Gardner was held in check early, Stephane Ingo was the guy Marist relied on to set the tone.
The graduate student has played well all year, but his performance on Friday was certainly his best to date. Ingo, Gardner and the Red Foxes pulled away in the second half, finishing off a 81-58 win over the Manhattan Jaspers.
Gardner stayed on course, and when the game started to open up in the second half, he delivered, time and time again. He and the rest of his teammates pounced on the Jaspers when the game was still in the balance, giving Manhattan no chance to climb back into the game.
“I thought Stephane (Ingo) really sparked us early with all those offensive rebounds and his good play on the defensive end. Obviously Patrick (Gardner) exploded there in the second half, and when you make shots, things are going good,” Marist head coach John Dunne said.
It wasn’t a pretty game to start, as neither team shot the ball well in the opening minutes. At the U12 timeout, Marist was shooting 12.5% from the field, while Manhattan was only a bit better at 17.6%. Marist was getting quality looks, but they just weren’t falling.
But as the half went on, the Red Foxes continued to crash the offensive glass. Ingo was a constant threat on the boards, causing Manhattan head coach RaShawn Stores to play with two bigs instead of one. That adjustment did not work, as the second opportunities continued to come for Marist.
“It’s about having energy and not taking any plays off. You have to see where the ball is going to go off the rim and constantly move. Attacking the ball with two hands and trying to get in a good position,” Ingo said about his threat as an offensive rebounder.
The Red Foxes began to capitalize on those second opportunities, leading to some open threes. Both Noah Harris and Kam Farris knocked one down for a long distance, as Marist got their first lead of the night at 14-12.
Marist and Manhattan played a tightly-contest first half, but the Red Foxes held a slight six-point lead at the break. Their energy and willingness to attack every loose ball was paying off, but it needed to continue for an additional 20 minutes.
Struggles to start the second half have been a constant concern for the Red Foxes, and that seemed to be the case against the Jaspers. Manhattan scored the first four points of the half, cutting the Marist lead to just two. But Javon Cooley three ended that run, and they would never look back.
Marist would go on an extended 13-2 run, putting themselves ahead 45-32 just under four minutes into the second half. Still, the Jaspers had enough to chip away at the deficit if their play improved, especially on the defensive end.
It would not, as that would be the start of Gardner’s eruption in the second half. Manhattan forced the rest of the team to beat them in the first, but it was only a matter of time before the top scorer for Marist got going.
His ability to work out of the post on either block made him a matchup nightmare, as Gardner spun to his stronger left hand. His first two buckets following halftime would come from the interior, opening up his game from behind the arc. Gardner would connect on back-to-back 3-pointers, one of which was created by an offensive rebound from Ingo.
Marist controlled the final ten minutes of the game. The balance of their offensive continued to show, as Gardner, Ingo, Harris and Cooley were constantly involved. All four of them were getting good shots, many of which were falling.
Marist would finish the game on a 26-15 run over the final stretch, finishing off a remarkable performance on the road. The Red Foxes have struggled when Gardner doesn’t have momentum, but in the first half against Manhattan, the rest of the team led by Ingo was thrived against the Jaspers defense.
Gardner finished the game with 25 points, 20 of which came in the second half on 10-for-15 shooting from the field. “When we have good spirit and we keep our energy throughout the second half, our offense is flowing,” Gardner said.
Ingo was the player of the game for Marist, scoring a career-high 17 points along with 11 rebounds, including eight offensive boards. Harris and Cooley all finished in double figures, going for 15 and 10 respectfully.
Marist is now 10-17 with a 6-12 record in MAAC play. The Red Foxes cannot play themselves into a first-round bye for the conference tournament, but that does not take away from the cruciality of their final two games.
Playing your best basketball going into Atlantic City is a necessity, and their win at Manhattan could be the start of some much-needed momentum over the next few weeks. Marist with a well-balanced attack can compete with anyone in the conference. If they can put it together for 40 minutes– game after game, they’ll be a tough out in A.C.
Edited By Dan Aulbach
Photo from Marist Athletics