It is turning into the Marist Invitational.
The Marist Red Foxes, in their 10th straight MAAC final, earned their eighth consecutive title with a 72-48 defeat of Iona. The Springfield, Mass. location was fitting as Marist, under coach Brian Giorgis, is a program of Hall of Fame caliber.
The pertinent numbers:
Giorgis himself is not a big proponent of tempo free statistics and breakdowns. His assistant Megan Gebbia has an interest but she, as Giorgis, are more concerned with execution. Especially on the defensive end.
The tempo free numbers show outstanding efficiency on offense and defense. A closer look shows the Red Foxes did not force Iona into miscues and turnovers. Rather, as PPWS and eFG shows, it was good solid lock down defense: Contesting shots and not allowing shooters to get set and get comfortable.
Marist also was a major factor on the offensive boards. In raw numbers they owned a 17-8 advantage. Allowing a team of Marist’s capability to extend 17 of their possessions is not something you want to do.
At the half Iona trailed 34-27. Not a bad deficit and for Iona coach Tony Bozzella – he could take solace in the fact his Player of the Year, Damika Martinez, had yet to get on track. Thanks to Marist’s defense, Martinez never got on track. She finished with 4 points on 2-for-9 shooting in 36 minutes. Martinez entered the game as the MAAC’s leading scorer at 18 points per outing.
The first four minutes of the second half were crucial for Iona to get established. Through those four minutes each team had eight possessions. The score at the 16 minute time out was 40-33, a dead heat with each team scoring six. On one hand Iona did not lose ground but really didn’t make a dent scoring or momentum wise. Marist on the other hand, solved Iona’s pressure and two of their field goals came on open mid range jumpers by Elizabeth Beynnon. A senior forward, Beynnon scored 15 points in the final and was named tournament MVP. Marist placed four players in double figures and showed outstanding ball movement and reversal against the Iona zone by assisting on 24 of their 26 (a 92% rate) field goals.
Marist improved to 26-6. They have not lost in 2013 with the last setback being on December 30 at Kentucky. Their ‘closest’ contest in MAAC play was a 61-56 decision over Fairfield back on January 6th.
Iona is now 20-12. A relatively young club (nine sophomores and freshman combined), the Gaels were paced by Joy Adams with 15 points and a game high 11 rebounds. The freshman forward was the MAAC Rookie of The Year.
The Gaels fell a game short, unable to negotiate that Marist Juggernaut. A WNIT bid should be in the offering for Bozzella’s group though.