SPRINGFIELD, MASS. - The Marist women's basketball team continued their dominance of their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), cruising to a 61-35 win over second-seeded Fairfield to win their seventh consecutive Tournament Championship, and eighth in nine years, Monday afternoon at the MassMutual Center.
Yarde scored a game-high 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half, and added seven rebounds. Gang finished with 15 points, on 3-6 shooting from three-point range. Dulin was also in double-figures, scoring 12 points while grabbing a game-high eight rebounds. Kelsey Beynnon (Burlington, Vt.) added eight points and Kristina Danella (Manalapan, N.J.) came off the bench and had seven points. The Red Foxes defense made seven steals while blocking five shots, giving them 18 total blocks for the tournament, and forced Fairfield into just 21% shooting while Marist shot 50% (24-48) for the game.
Marist (25-7, 17-1 MAAC) came out flying from the start, scoring on four of the first five possessions. Beynnon started things off, hitting a layup just 13 seconds into the game. Dulin made a lay-in of their own on their next trip down the court and then she found Gang for her first three-pointer. Two possessions later, Yarde scored her first basket on a layup, giving the Red Foxes a 9-2 lead with 16:47 remaining in the first half.
Two Fairfield (24-8, 15-3 MAAC) baskets brought the lead down to four at 11-7, but Gang and Leanne Ockenden (Syracuse, N.Y.) hit back-to-back three-pointers to bring the advantage to double-digits for the first time at 17-7.
In all, the Red Foxes went on a 19-11 run over the final 14 minutes of the first half to take a 30-18 lead into the locker room.
Gang was 3-5 on three-pointers, leading all scorers with 13 points. Beynnon had six points and Yarde and Dulin each had four. Dulin also led the Red Foxes with six rebounds. The defense was swarming, blocking four Fairfield shots including two by Beynnon and one each by Yarde and Ockenden.
The defense came out in the second half even stronger. After the Stags scored the first bucket of the half, Marist held them without another field goal until there was 6:43 remaining. The Red Foxes used a 24-3 run over that span to build a 31-point lead at 54-23.
Individual players made runs within the streak to start the half. Yarde scored the team's first seven points of the half on two layups and a three-pointer. Dulin followed with five straight of her own on a breakaway lay-in after an Ockenden steal and a hit a trey a couple of possessions later. Danella then came off the bench and hit a long jumper before being fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three free-throw attempts. Yarde hit another shot from behind the three-point line before Danella hit a running jumper in the paint to complete the run with 7:04 left.
Over the final few minutes, with the game out of hand, Marist was able to empty its bench, getting in every player who was dressed.
The Red Foxes will find out their destination for the NCAA Tournament next Monday, March 12. The selection show will air at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Notes - The 35 points was the fewest allowed in MAAC Championship Game history... Marist is now 3-0 versus Fairfield in the MAAC Tournament and 23-15 all-time... The win was the 250th of Coach Giorgis' career. He is now 25-2 in the MAAC Tournament... The Red Foxes are now 25-7 all-time in the MAAC Tournament and have won their last 20... Yarde became the seventh different Marist player to be named MAAC Tournament MVP. She joined Stephanie Del Preore, 2004; Meg Dahlman, 2006; Rachele Fitz, 2007 and 2010; Sarah Smrdel, 2008; Julianne Viani, 2009; Erica Allenspach, 2011.