LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. - Marist opens up Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play on Friday when it travels to Rider for a 7 p.m. contest. For the second straight season, the Red Foxes finished non-conference play at 5-6, but four of their six losses this year were to teams that were, at the time, ranked in the top-12 in the country. Marist is an impressive 84-6 against MAAC opponents in the past five regular seasons.
Last Time Out
Marist trailed by just eight points with under six minutes remaining, but faltered in the final minutes in falling at #7/6 Kentucky 78-56 on Sunday afternoon. Three players scored in double figures for the Red Foxes.
Elizabeth Beynnon (Burlington, Vt.) finished with a team-high 15 points on 7-11 shooting from the field.
Kristina Danella (Manalapan, N.J.) finished with a team-high six rebounds.
As a team, Marist shot 44% (20-45) and 42% (5-12) from three-point range.
SCOUTING THE BRONCS
Rider enters Friday with the same record as Marist at 5-6. The Broncs have dropped their past two games in tight contests. They fell to CCSU on the road 62-61 in overtime before losing at home last Saturday to St. Francis Brooklyn 58-55
The Broncs are led by Sironda Chambers and MyNeshia McKenzie who come in averaging 15.7 PPG and 12.7 PPG, respectively, ranking third and sixth in the MAAC in scoring. McKenzie also ranks second in the conference in rebounding, collecting 8.9 boards per game. She is closely followed by Caitlin Bopp who is at 8.6 RPG. Bopp also nearly averages 2 blocks per game, having registered 23 so far on the season.
HISTORY LESSON - MARIST VS. RIDER
This will be the 47th meeting all-time between the Red Foxes and Broncs, and the first of two this season. The two teams will meet again in Poughkeepsie on Friday, Feb. 22.
Marist leads the all-time series 33-13 and Head Coach Brian Giorgis is 19-1 in his career against the Broncs. The Red Foxes have won the past 18 meetings going back to Giorgis' first season back in 2002-03. Last season, Marist won both games, 82-56 at Rider, and 76-54 in McCann.
After using eight different lineups all of last season, Head Coach Brian Giorgis has already used five different starting lineups this year.
Casey Dulin has started all but one game as she was not in the starting five versus Princeton due to back spasms. Emma O'Connor has not started the past two games due to a wrist injury. Natalie Gomez has started each game but the first two as the point. Kristina Danella has made three starts while Kristine Best and Sydney Coffey have all also made one start.
Coffey made her first career start in just her third career game, becoming the fastest player to join the starting lineup in Giorgis' tenure.
RANKED AMONGST THE MID-MAJORS
After receiving one vote in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Preseason Poll, the Red Foxes moved up to as many as seven votes after the first weekend of games.
Marist has been ranked all season in the top 10 of the CollegeInsider.com Mid Major poll, but in the latest rankings fell to #11. The Red Foxes have reached as high as sixth, their highest ranking of the season and are the only team from the MAAC in the Top-25.
Also making the list is Princeton at #8, who Marist defeated 56-45 on Nov. 17 in Poughkeepsie when the Tigers were ranked 4th. Hartford and Boston University, who have both beaten the Red Foxes, sit just ahead of Marist at #9 and #10, respectively. Marist also defeated Hofstra, who sits just outside the Top-25 and has been in and out of the the rankings, on Nov. 28, 85-70.
Beynnon has proven to be an accurate shooter in her two seasons as a starter. After finishing second in the MAAC last season with a .486 field goal percentage, Beynnon is shooting at a .456 clip so far this season, inlcuindg a .500 FG% over the past five games. She holds two of the top-ten spots for single game field goal percentage in Marist history. Against Wake Forest on 11/24, Beynnon hit an incredibe eight of nine (.889) shots from the field, good for a tie for fourth all-time. She knocked herself down a peg as last year, when she was known as Kelsey, she shot 10-12 (.833) from the field versus Canisius on Feb. 17 which is now tied for 9th all-time.
O'CONNOR FINDING HER STRIDE
After never reaching double digits in scoring in her first two-plus seasons, O'Connor has scored at least 10 points in five of her past six starts. That includes a career-high 18 points against #2 UConn on Nov. 23, which she also tied on Dec. 2 at #12 Oklahoma. She has already surpassed her scoring total from last season.
OCKENDEN ALREADY INTO THE BOOKS
With her four three-pointers against Hofstra on Nov. 28, Ockenden put herself into the Top-10 all-time at Marist for three-pointers made. She currently sits at 112 for her career, putting her ninth all-time at Marist. She sits four treys behind Nina Vecchio (116) for eighth. Jean-Marie Lesko holds the top spot on the chart with 249 made three-pointers.
TALE OF TWO DULINS
After shooting .286 in the Red Foxes first five games, Dulin has gone 22-53 (.415) the past five games, averaging 12.6 PPG in that span, including a career-high 25-point performance against Hofstra on Nov. 28.
DANELLA THE IDEAL 6th MAN
Fifth-year senior Kristina Danella has proven to be valuable in any role, leading the Red Foxes this season with 5.2 RPG and is fifth in scoring at 8.2 PPg. While coming off the bench for the most of her two seasons at Marist, Danella has made nine starts for the Red Foxes inlcuding three this season - Nov. 9 vs. Vermont, Dec. 20 at Yale and Dec. 30 at Kentucky. In those nine starts, Danella is averaging 10.0 PPG while shooting 52% (28-54) from the field and 48% (12-25) from three-point range. She is also averaging 5.4 RPG and is 22-27 (81%) from the free throw line.
EARLY MORNING COFFEY
Following her performance on Nov. 17 versus Princeton, in just her third career game, freshman Sydney Coffey was named the MAAC Rookie of the Week.
On defense, Coffey was in charge of covering 2012 All-American Niveen Rasheed and held her to just 3-17 shooting for the game and forced her into five turnovers. Offensively, Coffey scored 13 points for the Red Foxes while more than doubling her previous career-high with 31 minutes.
It was the first weekly award of Coffey's young career and first on the season for the Red Foxes.
MUCH DESERVED CONTRACT EXTENSION
Murray on contract: "Brian has established our program as a consistent Top-40 team in the country. I'm thrilled with the idea of him spending his entire collegiate coaching career here at Marist. He's a special coach, and a special person. And I am excited that he will provide the Hudson River Valley excellent women's college basketball for many years."
Giorgis on contract: "I can't thank Marist College enough for offering me this extension and having the faith in me to lead this program into the next decade. We may not be a BCS program, but the support by both the administration and community is comparable or better than any BCS program in the country. I am truly humbled and appreciative of what Marist College has done for me during my tenure here and I thank God every day for bringing me here to Marist to be a part of this special community. I am truly blessed."
THE BIG 5-0-0
With the first two wins of this season, 66-45 over Vermont and 56-45 over Princeton. the Marist women's basketball program now stands at 500 wins since becoming a Division I program in the 1981-1982 season
Of those 500 wins, 253 belong to Giorgis.
ALL TOO FAMILIAR AT 1-1
This season marks the third straight year, and eighth time in Head Coach Brian Giorgis' 11-year career, that the Red Foxes have started off with a 1-1 record.
FIVE NAMED PRESEASON ALL-MAAC
On Thursday, Nov. 1, the Red Foxes had a league-high five players named to the 2012 All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).
This is the sixth consecutive year the Red Foxes had three or more players selected to be on the Pre-Season All-MAAC teams.
Junior guard Leanne Ockenden (Syracuse, N.Y.) was named to the First Team and is now up for MAAC Preseason Player of the Year, which will be announced during Friday's Award Show.
Senior forward Elizabeth Beynnon (Burlington, Vt.) was selected to the Second Team.
Giorgis on his three captains: "I am very happy that we have three members of our team that are capable of being quality leaders," Giorgis said. "Elizabeth, Casey and Leanne all started for us last year and were a big reason for our success. We will count on their veteran leadership this season both on and off the court to lead us in our challenging upcoming season."
MARIST SELECTED TO FINISH FIRST
For the sixth consecutive season, the Red Foxes were picked to finish first in the MAAC Preseason Coaches' Poll, announced Friday at the MAAC Preseason Awards Show which was held at McCann Arena and aired on ESPN3.
Marist was the unanimous choice, with all 10 of the first-place votes.
YET ANOTHER TOUGH SCHEDULE
The Red Foxes continue their recent trend of playing some of the nation's best competition in the non-conference portion of their schedule.
This season's slate featuring teams from five of the six power conferences and five of the 11 teams played in last year's NCAA Tournament while four others participated in the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).
Included in the non-conference schedule are four teams that are ranked in the top 20 of the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Preseason Poll. Leading that group is the University of Connecticut (#2), followed by Kentucky (#7), Oklahoma ((#14) and Purdue (#18).