Sunday, March 9, 2014

Marist Women, Yet Again, Advance To Title Contest

There was no fire-and-brimstone halftime speech imploring the Marist Red Foxes women's team to do better after it held just a one-point lead over Rider in a semifinal-round contest of the MAAC tournament.

Red Foxes coach Brian Giorgis, afterwards, joked his players certainly weren't old enough to have heard of Vince Lombardi, so he wasn't going to emulate one of the legendary Green Bay Packers' football coach's emotional pleadings.

Instead, he just relied on his players.

"They do it themselves," said Giorgis. "They know what's at stake. My seniors are very motivated. This is their tournament. This is what they want'. They weren't going to let this one go."

And, they didn't.

Marist went on a 7-1 surge to start the second half and, then, retained its offensive efficiency by scoring on 17 of its first 25 second-half possessions.

By then it had steadily increased its lead before getting on top, 69-48, with 5:00 left to play.

The winners, now 26-6, got their typically balanced scoring, including a 23-point/12-rebound effort by senior forward Emma O'Connor, 18 points from sophomore swingperson Sydney Coffey and 14 from sopohomore guard Madeline Blais.

But, as usual, it was more than typically efficient offense that carried the Red Foxes, who are trying to advance to the NCAA tournament by winning this event for the ninth straight season.

The winners also used their defensive work to make things difficult for the Broncs (now 15-17), too.

Rider's standout senior forward MyNeshia McKenzie, who entered the game averaging 19.9 points per contest, was held to just six points on Sunday, thanks to the strong defensive play by Coffey.

"Brian Giorgis gets his team to do a good job collapsing on me," said McKenzie. "That collapsing defense ... that's what they did to me."

"They collapsed and made MyNeshia make some decisions," said Rider coach Lynn Milligan.

Offensively Marist shot 48 percent in the second half after struggling from the floor with a 37.5 percent field goal percentage in the opening half.

"We persevered and we started getting up the floor quicker, looking for our break more in the second half," said Giorgis. "We missed a lot of layups in the first half."

Rider's top scorers against Marist were freshmen, guard Stephanie Mason and forward Julia Duggan.

"That was a good sign for our future," added Milligan. "Some of our kids began stepping up in a big-game situation."

No comments: