Women's Basketball Set For Monday's MAAC Championship Tilt With Iona
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Top-seeded Marist plays in its 10th consecutive MAAC Championship Game on Monday, meeting up with the second-seeded Iona Gaels. This is the third time the teams have met in the championship game in the past six years as Marist squeaked a 64-57 overtime win in 2007 before winning a 83-63 decision the following year in 2008.
SCOUTING THE GAELS
The Gaels are led offensively by the 2012 MAAC Player of the Year Damika Martinez who leads the MAAC this year with an average of 18.5 PPG, including hitting 43% (74-172) of her shots from three-point range. She is complemented by the 2012 MAAC Rookie of the Year Joy Adams who is also in double figures with 13.2 PPG and averages 10.3 RPG. Aleesha Powell averages 9.7 PPG while also handing out a 101 assists on the season and making 55 steals.
HISTORY LESSON - MARIST VS. IONA
This will be the 41st meeting all-time between the Red Foxes and Gaels and the two teams met twice this season. Back on Jan. 13, Marist defeated Iona 69-55 in Poughkeepsie on the back of four players scoring in double figures, including a season-high 12 points from Kristine Best. On Feb. 7 at Iona, Beynnon, Ockenden and Dulin combined for 41 points in a 63-40 victory.
Marist leads the all-time series 31-9 and Head Coach Brian Giorgis is a perfect 26-0 in his career against Iona, including victories in the 2007 and 2008 MAAC Championship Games. The Red Foxes have won the past 28 meetings going back to the 2000-01 season. Last year, Marist won both regular season games, 73-61 in New Rochelle and 79-65 at home at home on Senior Day.
MARIST IN THE MAAC CHAMPIONSHIPS
Marist has won seven consecutive MAAC championships and eight overall.
If Marist wins this year's championship, it will tie Saint Peter's for the most MAAC championships in conference history. Saint Peter's won its titles in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002.
Marist has won 22 consecutive games in the MAAC Tournament, including 12 straight by double-digit margins.
Of the 22 consecutive wins - 19 have been by double digits, and eight have been by over 20 points.
The three wins Marist had by single-digit margins in this span all came against Iona (60-59, '06 semifinal; 64-57 in OT, '07 championship game; 76-69, '09 semifinal).
Brian Giorgis' career MAAC Tournament record: 27-2.
In Marist's eight tournament championships, the Red Foxes have had seven different tournament MVPs. The only repeat winner was Rachele Fitz ('07 and '10). No one on Marist's current roster has won MAAC Tournament MVP.
This marks the first time since 2007 that Marist has not had the MAAC Player of the Year or someone selected to the All-MAAC First Team. That was the year Marist advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
However, this is the first time in program history Marist has had four selections to the All-MAAC First, Second and Third Teams in a single season.
Marist's seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances is the most of any school in the country that is not from a power-six conference (Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, ACC)
AWARDS AND MILESTONES THIS SEASON
On Nov. 17, in a 56-45 home victory over Princeton, Marist reached the milestone of 500 wins as a Division I program. Of those 500 wins, 253 of them belonged to Brian Giorgis
With the Red Foxes 69-44 win over Rider on Feb. 22, Marist reached the 20-win plateau for the 10th consecutive season.
On Friday, Feb. 1 versus Canisius, Kristina Danella became the 19th player to score her 1,000th career point in a Marist uniform, doing so on a three-pointer at the 9:21 mark of the first half. The first 616 points came in her first two seasons when she was at UMass.
On Thursday, Nov. 1, Marist had a league-high five players named to the 2012 All-MAAC Preseason Teams, marking 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 was named to the First Team, senior forward Elizabeth Beynnon was selected to the Second Team and junior guard Casey Dulin, redshirt sophomore forward Tori Jarosz and redshirt senior Kristina Danella were all named to the Third Team.
During the season, Marist earned six MAAC Weekly Awards, as a Red Fox was named a Player of the Week on three occasions and the Rookie of the Week three times.
Sydney Coffey was named the Rookie of the Week after making her first career start versus Princeton, which entered the game ranked fourth in the country amongst mid-major schools. She scored 13 points and shut down 2012 All-American Niveen Rasheed, holding her to just 3-17 shooting for the game and forced her into five turnovers.
Leanne Ockenden earned her first career weekly award when she was named the MAAC Player of the Week on Dec. 24 following a game at Yale where she scored 14 points on 7-10 shooting, had seven rebounds and set a career-high with five steals.
Coffey earned her second Rookie of the Week selection on Jan. 21 after averaging 14 points and 5.5 rebounds at Canisius and Niagara. She shot 50% from both the field and three-point range, went 14-15 from the free throw line and had a 3.0 assist-turnover ratio. She scored a career-high 16 points, including 9-9 from the free throw line, against Niagara and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds against Canisius.
Emma O'Connor was named the MAAC Co-Player of the Week on Jan. 28 after scoring a career-high 20 points in front of a national, ESPN3 audience at Manhattan. She tied a personal best with eight made field goals, shooting 8-10 from the field. O'Connor shared the award with Rider's MyNeshia McKenzie.
Coffey and Casey Dulin swept the awards on Feb. 25 as Coffey earned her third Rookie of the Week award of the season and Dulin was named Player of the Week for the first time of her career. Dulin had a career weekend against Rider and Loyola, averaging 22.5 points per game and shooting 62.5% from the floor and 60% from three-point range. She reached the 20-point plateau in both games, tying a career-high with 25 points against Rider and dropping 20 against Loyola. Coffey averaged nine points and 4.5 rebounds in the same games, including tying her career-high with 16 points at Loyola.
On Monday, March 4, Marist had a league-high five members named to All-MAAC postseason teamsy. While the Red Foxes did not have anyone on the First Team, and therefore eligible for MAAC Player of the Year, Casey Dulin and Elizabeth Beynnon were selected to the Second Team while Leanne Ockenden and Emma O'Connor were on the Third Team. Freshman Sydney Coffey was selected to the All-Rookie Team.
DEFENSE IS IMPROVING
After a grueling non-conference schedule, where Marist played four teams in the top-15, the Red Foxes defense entered MAAC play on Jan. 3 ranked 216th nationally in scoring defense with an average of 63.3 points per game.
In the 18 games against MAAC opponents, the defense has jumped 194 spots, ranking 22nd as of March 5, giving up just 53.0 points per game now.
In conference games this season, Marist allowed just 46.6 points per game - an average of 8.5 points per game better than the next-best team (Fairfield).
Marist has finished the season in the top 50 in the country in scoring defense the previous eight years, including a #1 ranking in the 2010-11 season. Marist is currently 22nd in the country in this category after being ranked 216th on Jan. 3.
NAILING THEIR FREE THROWS
The Red Foxes not only lead the MAAC, but also rank sixth in the country in free-throw percentage at .785.
Even though she has only played at Marist less than two seasons, Danella already qualifies to rank first all-time in program history in free throw percentage, having gone 153-172 (.890). She has hit her last 20 free throws dating back to Feb. 17 versus Manhattan, a span of six games.
STRONG TO THE BASKET
Marist has gone to the charity stripe 41 times (1.4/game) this year with the opportunity to complete a three-point play and have completed 30 of those chances.
Elizabeth Beynnon leads the way with 10 "And One" opportunities, completing the task eight times. Sydney Coffey is a near-perfect 8-9 and Casey Dulin and Kristina Danella have converted six and five such opportunities, respectively. Emma O'Connor is also 4-5 on the season.
Last season, in 34 games, the Red Foxes went 33-45 in these situations, attempting 1.3 three-point plays per game.
After using eight different lineups all of last season, Head Coach Brian Giorgis has used eight different starting lineups this year.
Casey Dulin has started all but three games. She did not start Nov. 17 versus Princeton due to back spasms, Jan. 13 against Iona due to an excused absence from practice or March 1 versus Saint Peter's because of Senior Day.
Emma O'Connor did not start two games, Dec. 20 at Yale and Dec. 31 at Kentucky, due to a wrist injury. She also missed the March 1 game versus Saint Peter's due to concussion symptoms.
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
Marist had been ranked in the top 10 of the CollegeInsider.com Mid Major poll, but had fallen into the lower teens for the past few weeks. However, Marist has jumped back up to #7 this week. The Red Foxes have reached as high as sixth and are the only team from the MAAC in the Top-25. Also making the list is Princeton at #4, who Marist defeated 56-45 on Nov. 17 in Poughkeepsie when the Tigers were also ranked 4th. Boston University, who beat the Red Foxes, is also ranked, sitting at #12. Marist also fell to Hartford, while defeating Hofstra, who both sit just outside the Top-25, and have been in and out of the rankings.
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."
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."
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 featured 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 were four teams that are ranked in the top-15 of the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Preseason Poll. Leading that group was the University of Connecticut (#2), followed by Kentucky (#7/6), Oklahoma (#12) and Purdue (#14/12).