Friday, March 8, 2013

Marist "Juggernaut" Rolls To Win Over Manhattan

Manhattan women's coach John Olenowski had the perfect description, after his team's 72-50 quarterfinal-round tournament loss to Marist Friday, surely one shared throughout the league toward the Red Foxes.

"We ran into a juggernaut, as we all know," said the Jaspers' coach.

Juggernaut, indeed. Marist ripped through regular-season conference play with an 18-0 record, won games by an average of 24.7 points per game, have won the last 10 regular-season league crowns and are chasing their eighth straight tournament title.

And, this is as unexpected as any run in Marist's history under 11th-year head coach Brian Giorgis.

"There's nothing we haven't heard in terms of expectations and what we should do," said Giorgis. "But there's not a more-deserving group, and I haven't had a team get more out of its abilities than this group."

Indeed, the Red Foxes lost two quality post players at the start of the current season, and adapted on the fly, employing probably the smallest, quickest lineup it has ever put on the court under Giorgis.

And, the team never skipped a proverbial beat, and certainly not on Friday against the last team to beat Marist in a conference game (Marist has won 29 straight against league foes since Manhattan beat the Red Foxes, 48-44, on Feb. 4, 2012).

But, the Jaspers hung around for a while on Friday, getting to within nine, 31-25, on Monica Roeder's three-pointer on the first play after haftime.

And, then, the winners went on a 27-4 run that just pushed things farther and farther out of reach.

"It was like the last two times we played them ... we only led by one at halftime at their place, and only by five at the half at our place," said Giorgis. "This time, same thing at the start of the second half. We felt fortunate to be up by nine at halftime and, then, they cut it to six.

"We needed better movement, and we got it in the second half. And, any time you only have seven turnovers against him (Manhattan coach Olenowski) .... we just took care of the ball, got shots and made some shots."

Marist, after shooting just 33.3 percent from the field in the first half, made 45.5 percent after the break. It typically had balanced scoring with Elizabeth Beynnon (14), Leanne Ockenden and reserve Madeline Blais (13 each) and freshman reserve Sydney Coffey (11) getting into double figures.

"When we got up by 26 or 28, that gave guys a chance to rest," said Giorgis. "We didn't have anyone play more than 29 minutes."

And, that means the "juggernaut" will be well-rested for today's 11:30 a.m. semifinal-round contest against the winner of today's Rider-Niagara contest.

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