POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - The Marist women's basketball team erased a seven-point halftime deficit with an 18-0 run to start the second half and never looked back, defeating Vermont 66-45 in its season-opener Friday night at McCann Arena.
Tori Jarosz (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), playing in her first game in a Marist uniform, finished with a game high 14 points including going 8-10 from the free throw line and adding three blocks. Leanne Ockenden (Syracuse, N.Y.) and Elizabeth Beynnon (Burlington, Vt. ) were both also in double figures with 12 points. Making her first career start, junior Emma O'Connor (Lynbrook, N.Y.) tied her career-high with nine points. Defensively, Marist forced 24 Catamount turnovers, making 10 steals, and had six blocks.
After a sloppy first half that saw them trail 32-25 at the break, Marist (1-0) opened the second half on a tear, scoring the first 18 points of the period and holding Vermont (0-1) without a basket for nearly eight minutes. Beynnon started the run with a jumper from the baseline off of an O'Connor assist just seven seconds into the half. O'Connor then score seven of the next nine points for the Red Foxes, hitting a layup in traffic before making two free throws, the second of which gave Marist its first lead of the game at 33-32 and draining a three-pointer. It was then Beynnon's turn to make a run as she scored five points in the Red Foxes' next two possessions on a breakaway layup and then taking a pass from Ockenden and nailing a three-point shot.
Freshman Sydney Coffey (New Hope, Minn.) and Jarosz each hit single free throws to close the streak, giving Marist a double-digit lead at 43-32.
Following a Vermont layup, Jarosz made five of six shots from the free throw line and consecutive layups give herself a personal 9-0 run and extend the Red Foxes' lead to 52-34 with 8:25 remaining.
The Red Foxes emptied their bench the rest of the game, as every player dressed saw time on the court and 10 contributed points.
Marist started out slow in the first half. After taking an early 2-0 lead on a Dulin basket on their first drive, the Red Foxes hit some struggles with their offense. Vermont scored 12 straight points and held Marist without a point for over a five-minute span. Two made free throws and a mid-range jumper by Kristine Best (Commack, N.Y.), playing in her first game since tearing her ACL last December, helped the Red Foxes start to fight their way back.
The Catamounts held a seven point lead at 20-13, but Ockenden scored five points in just over 30 seconds on a three-pointer and a long jumper to close the gap to 20-18 and force a Vermont timeout. That was the closest Marist could get at the half however, as they shot just 29% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.
The Red Foxes play their second straight opponent from America East when they play their first road game at Hartford on Tuesday. Tip-off is schedule for 7 p.m. Marist has beaten the Hawks in each of the past four season, including a 57-51 victory in Poughkeepsie last December.
Notes - In the MAAC Preseason Awards Show, aired in pregame on ESPN3 from McCann Arena, Marist was again picked atop the MAAC Coaches' Poll... Loyola's Katie Sheahin was picked as the Preseason Player of the Year... Prior to the game, Marist honored the 2011-12 MAAC Champion women's basketball team with a ring ceremony and banner raising... At halftime, Corielle Yarde (Class of 2012) was honored by Marist and the MAAC for being named the 2011-12 MAAC Female Student-Athlete of the Year... The win was the 499th for Marist women's basketball since becoming a Division I program in 1981.