Lacking their primary ball handler in Kiara Fisher, Marist women’s basketball could not get their offense going, falling to the University of Pennsylvania 74-51.
The Red Foxes debuted their new and improved offense in the home opener victory over Army yet were unable to keep their momentum going with Fisher, the team’s playmaking senior point guard, out of the lineup due to a nagging injury. In her place, ball-handling duties were split up between players such as sophomore guard Jackie Piddock and freshman guard Julia Corsentino.
While Corsentino came off the bench to go a perfect 2-2 from three-point range and 4-4 at the line for 12 points, she turned the ball over a team-high seven times. Sophomore guard Lexie Tarul started in place of Fisher and had six turnovers of her own; overall, the Red Foxes turned it over 26 times, compared to only 10 turnovers for Penn.
Marist’s offensive struggles were highlighted by senior forward Zaria Shazer going 5-14 from the field, along with Piddock and junior guard Catie Cunningham’s quiet performances after they each scored 17 points on Thursday.
For Penn, junior Stina Almqvist put on a clinic in the Quakers’ season opener, finishing a career-best day with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and going a perfect 6-6 at the free throw line. The Swedish guard was everywhere, forcing turnovers, dishing out dimes, and hustling up and down the court.
Almqvist was joined by junior guard Lizzy Groestch, who had 18 points on 7-16 shooting for the Quakers.
The game started well for Marist, with the Red Foxes jumping out to a 4-0 lead on a layup from center Morgan Lee and a Shazer pull-up jumper. During the first three minutes of play, Lee racked up two fouls, sending her to the bench. From there, it all went downhill, with Penn going on a 15-0 run as their aggressive defense swarmed the Red Foxes.
With three minutes left in the first quarter, Piddock turned the ball over with freshman guard Mataya Gayle getting the steal; she then assisted Groestch on a driving layup. On the very next possession, Shazer turned it over with Almqvist coming away with the steal and assisting senior forward Jordan Obi on a driving layup of her own, making it 13-4 in favor of Penn.
Sophomore Marist forward Ciara Croker finally broke the scoring slump with a bucket, but Marist now trailed by nine. At the end of one, they had already accumulated 10 turnovers as a team; they clearly missed Fisher’s ability to facilitate the offense.
Corsentino scored her first collegiate basket on a long two-pointer with seven minutes remaining in the half, and then she drilled a stepback three-pointer to bring Marist within six. Marist would not score again over the remaining 4 and a half minutes in the half, with Almqvist completely taking over the game for Penn.
First, she sank a three-pointer with three and a half minutes remaining in the half. On the next possession, she stole the ball from Corsentino and dished out a cross-court dime to Obi, who drove in and made the and-one layup. Almqvidst followed that with a driving layup, then notched her fourth steal of the afternoon with under a minute remaining, going coast to coast for another bucket.
The exclamation mark for Almqvist came when she blocked Piddock’s half-court shot attempt as time expired in the half; the Quakers now led 34-17 and ultimately held on to win 74-51.
The Red Foxes will now get three days off before traveling to Easton, PA to face Lafayette on Wednesday at 6 p.m; the time off is a welcome sight with the team looking to get Fisher back out on the floor. Lafayette will be in search of their first win of the season, as they lost to Syracuse in their season opener and fell to East Tennessee State earlier today.
Edited By Marley Pope
Photo and Graphic Credit: Jaylen Rizzo