Hand Free Throw Streak Ends As Marist Struggles In Loss To Rider

In a matchup of two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference elites, the Marist College women’s basketball team struggled to find an offensive rhythm when it mattered, falling to the Rider University Broncs 68-58 on Wednesday night at McCann Arena.

With the exception of a glowing 27-point performance from Alana Gilmer, Marist (15-7, 6-3 MAAC) was unable to put together much meaningful offensive play, as turnovers plagued the Red Foxes throughout the home defeat. Marist piled up 23 giveaways, which led to 22 Rider points. A late Marist push proved fruitless, as Rider weathered a late Red Fox offensive flurry to take the victory and sole possession of second place in the conference.

“It was a really disappointing game for us, coming off the Manhattan loss,” head coach Brian Giorgis said after a lengthy team meeting. “Right now, our offense is a hot mess, and we’ve got nobody on the same page.”

Rebekah Hand also saw her streak of consecutive made free throws snapped at 62 with a miss from the stripe in the second quarter. It will go in the books as the fourth-longest made free throw streak in NCAA history.

Rider (11-8, 7-1 MAAC) dominated in the early going, due in large part to a stingy defensive attack that limited the Red Foxes to just nine first-quarter points. Marist shot just 33 percent in the first quarter as missed opportunities, particularly missed layups, told the story.

“We’ve got to be a lot more mentally tough,” Giorgis said. “We’ve got to really commit to the little things in our offense.”

Things looked especially bleak for Marist early in the second quarter, as the Broncs led by as many as ten points in the early minutes of the period.

Marist star guard Rebekah Hand also experienced uncharacteristic struggles, racking up four fouls and just three points over the first three quarters combined. In Hand’s absence, Rider stretched its lead back to as many as ten points in the third quarter, but it was the dominant offensive play of Gilmer that continued to keep things interesting. Gilmer entered the fourth quarter with 20 of Marist’s 38 points.

Just as they’d done in the third period, Rider started the fourth quarter hot, scoring the first six points to open its lead to 13, the largest of the game. However, Marist responded with clutch three-pointers from Gilmer and Allie Best an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 53-48. The hot shooting appeared to put Marist squarely in the game, but timely late scores from Lexi Posset and Stella Johnson bolstered the Rider lead. On the other side, Marist was unable to respond as the Broncs nailed down late free throws to seal the victory.

Despite her excellent shooting performance, Gilmer still expressed her displeasure with the final result.

“Coach said it perfectly; we’re not executing,” Gilmer said. “[Rider] just wanted it more than us, in every single way.”

With the loss behind them, the Red Foxes look ahead to several chances to right the ship. A visit to rival Siena looms on Friday, and a rematch with the Broncs is set for Wednesday night at Rider. Gilmer noted what needs to change as Marist looks to regroup.

“We’ve got to come out with an edge to us, some fire,” Gilmer said. “We know how good we can be, and we know that we really want to do some great things.”

Giorgis echoed Gilmer’s thoughts, citing the need for a change in mindset.

“We’ve got to be much more physical and much tougher,” Giorgis said.

Jack McElduffComment