Marist tops Iona women, earns share of MAAC title
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (AP) Brian Giorgis knew his Marist Red Foxes wouldn’t give up the MAAC regular-season title without a fight.
And that’s what they did, as Marist topped Iona to win a share of the championship for the 11th straight season.
Tori Jarosz scored a career-high 21 points and had a career-best 14 rebounds to lead Marist to a 79-67 win over Iona on Sunday.
”I have three seniors that refused to lose,” Giorgis said. ”They had a great attitude coming in and you saw in second half.”
Senior Casey Duhlin added 19 points for the Red Foxes (24-6, 18-2).
”We were all fired up for this game. We wanted our fourth regular season championship and we wouldn’t leave here without it,” she said.
Jarosz was the key. She had been battling injuries since transferring to Marist in 2011. She suffered a season-ending wrist injury one game into the season last year and then ruptured her Achilles tendon over the summer and didn’t make her debut until Dec. 31.
”Tori came of age today,” Giorgis said. ”It was a great game for her. If you know her background with all the injuries she’s had. I couldn’t be happier for a player in this country than Tori Jarosz. We needed it most with the championship on the line and she came through.”
The Gaels (25-4, 18-2) have already claimed the top seed in the MAAC tournament which starts on Thursday. That’s the first time since 2004 that the Red Foxes won’t be the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
Even with the loss, it’s already been a record-breaking season for the Gaels. They’ve won 25 games for the first time in program history and had the school’s longest winning streak with 18 in a row earlier this season. Iona also ended a 29-game losing streak to Marist with a last-second victory on Jan. 13.
”This one stings a little bit,” Iona coach Billi Godsey said. ”They played together and played well. We wanted it, just didn’t put out maximum amount to get it.”
The Gaels were looking for the sweep of the conference’s juggernaut. Marist led 40-37 at the half before opening the second half by scoring 17 of the first 19 points. Jarosz had six points during the game-changing burst. Duhlin’s three-point play made it 56-39 with 13:38 left.
Aaliyah Robinson’s 3-pointer finally ended the drought for the Gaels, who missed 15 of their first 16 shots to start the second half. That basket only brought them within 15.
Trailing 63-44 midway through the second half, Iona mounted a charge behind leading scorer Damika Martinez. She had six points during an 18-7 run that got the Gaels within 70-62 with 3:25 left.
But Jarosz restored the double-digit lead with another lay-in to surpass her previous career high of 20 points set last month. Iona could only get within eight the rest of the way.
”We feel like we’re the better team,” said Martinez, who led the Gaels with 20 points. ”Today we didn’t play like we’re the better team. They played harder than us. We didn’t act like we wanted it and they took it.”
Iona hung tough in the first half behind senior Sabrina Jeridore. The Gaels took their first lead of the game on Haley D’Angelo’s 3-pointer with 9:01 left.
The teams traded baskets over the next few minutes before Sydney Coffey’s three-point play gave Marist a 36-31 lead with 2:05 left. The Red Foxes led 40-37 at the half after Jarosz’s putback just before the half.
The victory was the 301st of Giorgis’ career at Marist. He won No. 300 against Monmouth on Friday night.
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