Women's basketball season ends in second round of NCAA Tournament
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 29, 2012 03:03
It was a situation all too familiar for the Marist women’s basketball team. The Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, down three points to a team seeded much higher than they were, with the ball, and not much time on the clock.
The Red Foxes were in the exact same setting just one year ago, when they were defeated by second seeded Duke as a three point attempt from then freshman Leanne Ockenden rimmed out. The ending this time around was eerily similar, as Ockenden missed a very difficult deep three and the clock finally ran out on the biggest Cinderella story in this year’s tournament.
“This is about as tough as it gets,” Marist head coach Brian Giorgis said after the loss. “Talk about life’s not fair for these kids two years in a row to experience the heartbreak that they have experienced with being so close and just not getting it done at the end.”
St. Bonaventure missed a free throw with 10.1 seconds to play, allowing Marist one last chance to tie the game. Marist seemed to be trying to get senior and MAAC Player of the Year Corielle Yarde open for a three-point attempt but the Bonnies played very strongly defensively on the Red Foxes leading scorer. Ockenden was forced to jack up a deep attempt that she could not get to fall and Marist was defeated.
“I thought it was a great shot,” Yarde said. “(Ockenden) is our best three point shooter and I would want it in her hands at the end of the game. I wanted her to take it 10 times over again if we had the chance and advice I would give to the next class, I would say keep giving her the ball at the end of the game like that because one of them will come through and they’ll get what they deserve.”
Marist rebounded in the second half from a difficult start against an on fire St. Bonaventure team where they shot just 38 percent, compared to the Bonnies’ 54 percent, and the Red Foxes trailed 38-31 at the break. Yarde kept the team afloat with 11 points where no other player had more than six.
Marist came out of the locker room on fire on a 12-4 run, which saw them claim a 43-42 lead. Gang had eight points on the run to spark the offensive assault. Both teams went back and forth throughout the remainder of the game, with neither team pulling ahead by more than seven and with 23 seconds to play, the Bonnies hit two free throws to pull ahead 66-63.
On offense, Marist attempted a back door cut but Corielle Yarde's pass went out of play as its intended target appeared to get held up on the baseline and the Red Foxes turned the ball over. A quick foul from Ockenden sent St. Bonaventure's Jessica Jenkins to the line for a one and one. Despite missing only two of 67 free throws all season, Jenkins' attempt did not drop and Marist got one last chance.
Yarde got the rebound and took the ball down the court before dishing off the Ockenden. Ockenden repeatedly looked to pass back to the Red Foxes' leading scorer, but tight defensive coverage forced her to take a deep and contested three, which missed to the right, ending Marist's season.
“I don’t like to call timeouts in those situations because you want to get them in transition, like last year, and get a great look out of it,” Giorgis said. “This year, they adjusted to it. They were onto Leanne and she did the best that she could. You really have to tip your cap to Bonaventure.”
For the game, senior forward Brandy Gang led all Marist players with 19 points in what will be her final game with the program. Yarde had 13 points in what was also her last game in a Marist jersey, showing that Marist’s seniors stepped up on the brightest of stages, leading the team as they have all year.
“I am really proud,” Yarde said. “We stuck with it. I mean we went down a couple of times but everyone had the refuse to lose attitude. We ended up losing but I am really proud because we’re a young team and they stuck with it. They never dropped their heads. At times they were encouraging me.”