Marist-Michigan St. Preview

All season long, Marist takes its opponents’ best shots as the

dominant team in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Come March, the hunted play very well as the hunters, and the

Red Foxes look to add Michigan State as another upset victim in the

NCAA tournament when the teams meet Saturday at College Park,

Md.

Marist (26-6) won the MAAC for the eighth straight season to

make the field of 64 and is trying to win a first-round NCAA game

for the third straight year. The 12th-seeded Red Foxes reached the

round of 16 in 2007 as a 13 seed and nearly duplicated the feat

last season before suffering a close loss to St. Bonaventure in the

second round.

”We knew we have our hands full, but it’s kind of nice to take

off the bull’s-eye jacket and go and see if we can pull another

upset,” coach Brian Giorgis said. ”You get labeled that because

of what you’ve done in the past, and the nice part is we have some

players from that past who have been able to experience it,

especially in the last couple of years.”

The Red Foxes, who have won 21 straight games since a 78-56 loss

at then-No. 7 Kentucky on Dec. 30, are led by forward Elizabeth

Beynnon, who averages 12.2 points. Marist enters this game 18th in

the nation in scoring defense at 52.3 points per game allowed and

has held 12 of its last 13 opponents to 50 or fewer points.

Fifth-seeded Michigan State (24-8) is also looking to rekindle

some NCAA tournament history of its own, trying to advance to the

second round for the eighth time in its last nine appearances. The

Spartans had their first-round win streak snapped last year at this

venue, losing 67-55 to Louisville.

“Getting back here is a new beginning,” said Michigan State

forward Jasmine Thomas, who is second on the team averaging 10.4

points and 5.3 rebounds.

Klarissa Bell leads the Spartans offensively with 11.1 points

and 5.9 rebounds per game. Like Marist, Michigan State also excels

on the defensive end, yielding 51.6 points per game while holding

opponents to 36.1 percent shooting overall and 26.7 percent from

3-point range.

“We are well aware of what they have been able to accomplish in

the past,” Michigan State forward Courtney Schiffauer said. ”They

are a great team and they always do well in the first couple rounds

of the tournament.”

The Spartans are shooting only 40.4 percent for the season but

led the Big Ten in rebounding margin with a plus-7.6 differential.

The Red Foxes have been outrebounded by 2.2 per game, with

opponents averaging 12.7 offensive boards.

The winner of this game will play the winner of fourth-seeded

Maryland and No. 13 seed Quinnipiac in the second round on

Monday.