POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - Casey Dulin (Milford, Conn.) scored 14 points and led the Red Foxes with five rebounds and five assists as the Marist women's basketball team won a showdown with Fairfield, 60-54, Friday night to take sole possession of first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).
Marist (17-7, 12-1 MAAC) used a 16-6 run, spanning both halves, to give themselves a cushion with an 11-point lead at 38-27 with 16:11 remaining in the game. With the score 22-21, Dulin and Kelsey Beynnon (Burlington, Vt.) hit quick back-to-back layups to force a Fairfield (18-6, 11-2 MAAC) timeout. Beynnon then hit another layup in the final 30 seconds, before the Stags hit a jumper right before the buzzer.
Coming out of halftime, Brandy Gang (Hartville, Ohio) took over. She hit two quick baskets to open the half then, after Corielle Yarde (Reading, Pa.) hit a three-pointer, Gang hit one of her own from behind the arc to extend the Marist lead back to 38-27.
Gang finished with a team-high 15 points. Yarde had nine points and Leanne Ockenden (Syracuse, N.Y.) added eight, including nailing two three-pointers. Beynnon and Emma O'Connor (Lynbrook, N.Y.) both had seven points. Beynnon had a career-high five steals, part of a Marist defense that forced 17 turnovers. The Red Foxes scored 22 points off of turnovers, while only letting Fairfield score four points off of nine Marist turnovers. They held Fairfield guard Alexys Vazquez, who came in leading the country in three-point field goal percentage, to 0-5 from three-point range.
The offense started slow for the Red Foxes, as they did not make a field goal until Ockenden's first trey, nearly seven minutes into the game. That tied the game at four, as the defense held the Stags to just two baskets on 12 shots to start the contest.
The teams played even for the rest of the half. At one point, O'Connor came off the bench and scored seven of ten points for the Red Foxes within a four minute span.
After a Yarde layup, O'Connor picked off a Fairfield pass and went the length of the floor for a breakaway basket. Then following Ockenden's second three-pointer of the half, O'Connor hit a short jumper from the baseline off of a feed from Beynnon. On the next Marist possession, she then hit a three-pointer over a defender from the top of the key to give the Red Foxes 22-19 lead with three minutes remaining in the half.
Marist then went on their run that began the second half and maintained a lead of at least eight points for much of the final 15 minutes. With 6:51 remaining, Dulin drove down the lane and hit a layup while being fouled. She completed the three-point play to give the Red Foxes their largest lead of the night at 52-40.
The defense then clamped down and Gang and Dulin hit free throws over the final minutes to hold off any chance of a Fairfield comeback.
The Red Foxes complete a three-game home stand on Sunday when they host Siena in a 2 p.m. contest. It is Marist's annual Play 4Kay (formerly Pink Zone) Breast Cancer Awareness game. The team will then be on the road next weekend with games at Canisius and Niagara
Notes - Beynnon returned to the starting lineup after missing the past two games with an ankle injury... Marist leads the all-time series record over Fairfield 22-15... Head Coach Brian Giorgis is 19-3 in his career against the Stags... Marist has won 28 consecutive home games against MAAC opponents.