TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The 13th-seeded Marist women's basketball team won their fifth ever NCAA Tournament game Sunday afternoon, defeating the fourth-seeded University of Georgia 76-60 in a First Round game.
Corielle Yarde (Reading, Pa.) scored a team-high 21 points, while also grabbing seven rebounds. Brandy Gang (Hartville, Ohio) had 18 points, including 3-5 shooting from behind the three-point arc. Casey Dulin (Milford, Conn.) joined Yarde and Gang in double figures with 11 points, going 7-10 from the free throw line, all which came in the second half. Kelsey Beynnon (Burlington, Vt.) grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds while also scoring eight points. Marist shot 52% from the field, including 47% (7-15) from three-point range.
"[Our players] just never cease to amaze me," Marist Head Coach Brian Giorgis said. "Especially this group, with the adversity and all of the people that graduated and left and the injury to Kristine Best that happened this year, they just never seem to get rattled. We beat an excellent Georgia team, one of the best in the Southeast Conference, which is one of the best conferences in the country and we did it the same way that we won all year with seniors stepping up"
Beynnon started things off with a bucket on Marist's (26-7) first possession. Georgia (22-9) however went on a 10-2 run to jump ahead 10-4 with 15:52 left in the first half.
The Red Foxes responded with a 7-0 streak of their own to get right back into the game and take an 11-10 lead with 14:00 left on the clock. Yarde started and ended the run with driving layups, sandwiched around Gang's first three-pointer.
Marist went on another streak trailing 20-15 with 9:19 left in the opening period, holding the Bulldogs without a made field goal for four and a half minutes while scoring 11 straight points. Kristina Danella (Manalapan, N.J.) and Natalie Gomez (Andover, Mass.) each hit a pair of free throws, Gang made a layup and connected on another three-pointer and Dulin hit a driving layup in traffic. The Red Foxes led 26-20 after the streak, with 5:49 remaining.
With Georgia leading 32-31, Marist hit two three-pointers in the final minute of the half, one by Danella and the other by Yarde on a ong step back shot with just seven seconds remaining on the clock to give the Red Foxes a 37-32 lead at the half.
Yarde led all scorers at halftime with 10 points. Gang had eight points and Danella had seven. Marist was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line, and was 5-9 (56%) from three-point range, with Yarde and Gang hitting two apiece.
The Red Foxes opened the second half scoring eight of the first ten point to open a double-digit lead at 45-34 with 17:51 left. Gang had five of those points with her third three-pointer and a driving layup. Yarde made two nifty moves around defenders at the three-point line for nice driving lay-ins. Beynnon also added a bucket and Dulin hit a free throw.
With the lead at 51-42, Georgia mounted a comeback by scoring 16 of the next 22 points to take a 58-57 advantage with 9:41 remaining.
The two teams went back and forth for the next few minutes until, with the Bulldogs leading 62-61, Marist went on another run, this time scoring eight unanswered points. Gang hit a pair of free throws to start the streak before hitting a layup. Yarde hit a jumper off of an assist from Dulin before Dulin hit a pair of her own from the charity stripe to give the Red Foxes a 69-62 advantage with 2:40 left.
Dulin was 4-6 on free throws in the final 2:19 and Yarde converted a three-point play as Marist won a NCAA Tournament game for the second consecutive year.
"I think it's tremendous," Giorgis said of his team's success in the Tournament. "Like anything else-doing it once was nice, and doing it a few times-but this is five wins and having people say 'this isn't a surprise,' that's just tremendous. It's a feather in our cap and it's a feather in our community who comes out and supports us all the time."
The Red Foxes will play the winner of the winner of fifth-seeded St. Bonaventure and the 12 seed Florida Gulf Coast University. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Tallahassee.
Notes - Marist is now 2-0 versus the Southeastern Conference (SEC) this season after being 0-9 all-time coming into the year... The Red Foxes are now 1-2 all-time against Georgia, and avenged a NCAA Tournament First Round loss in 2006... Marist is 3-1 as a 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They made the Sweet 16 in 2007, knocking off Ohio State and Middle Tennessee State to do so... Marist has now won five NCAA Tournament games, including first-round games four out of the last six years.