With Marist head coach Brian Giorgis sporting a sharp tuxedo with a red bow tie, it figured to be a good night for the Red Foxes. And it was as Marist was able take complete control of first place in the MAAC conference with its victory over Fairfield, 60-54.
Early on, it was obvious that both teams understood the implications of this game as neither team was able to truly establish much of a lead. The early play of Fairfield’s Brittany MacFarland off the bench really kept her team in the game as she led all scorers with 11 first half points. But it was the play of Marist’s team defense that was able to offset the excellent play of MacFarland.
Marist ended the first half with 6 steals which led to 10 points for the Red Foxes as they took a 28-23 lead into halftime.
Before the second half could begin, the Marist fan base which had given the players such a huge boost of energy in the first half took it to another level at halftime. They were so lively and into the atmosphere of the game that they went out on the floor and joined together with the cheerleaders and dance team. Dancing to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” it was truly a phenomenal spectacle.
As the second half began, Marist jumped to an 11 point lead within the first four minutes as they fed off the crowd’s jovial energy. In that span, Brandy Gang literally went on her own run as she scored 7 points and helped the Red Foxes seize control. But with so much at stake, Fairfield fought back and continued to chip away as they cut the lead down to 6 on many occasions. Yet it seemed like every time Fairfield got within striking distance, Gang would immediately make a play whether it was a lay-up, a three pointer or a free throw.
Marist still could not completely pull away as Corielle Yarde’s late turnover and Taryn Johnson’s subsequent lay-up for Fairfield gave them a ray of hope with 1:29 left. It seemed that Fairfield might have one last run in them; nevertheless a late steal by Casey Dulin sealed the victory for Marist.
Dulin led with Marist with a solid all around performance of 14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Also contributing for the Red Foxes was Gang who had 15 points and Leanne Ockenden who was great defensively.
“Ockenden is the best defensive player in the league,” said Giorgis.
Taryn Johnson had a double-double for Fairfield with 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. MacFarland added 14 points and Desiree Pina had 10 points in the losing effort.
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