By Marshall Haim
Assistant Sports Editor
The Canisius Golden Griffins’ offense came to play on Thursday morning during the 18th annual Kids Day game, however defensively the Griffs couldn’t contain the Marist Red Foxes. Canisius allowed 53 second half points to the Red Foxes, after allowing just eight in the 2nd quarter, enabling the Red Foxes to defeat the Griffs, 85-74.
The annual Kids Day game is the biggest in the entire Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), as the Koessler Athletic Center was sold out seeing 2,196 spectators watch the Griffs and Red Foxes.
For senior guard Lauren D’Hont, this was her fourth Kids Day game and she enjoyed the crowd’s energy, despite the end result on the scoreboard.
“It’s awesome,” D’Hont said. “They actually did a good job cheering for the right team, so that was really cool. I would have liked to feed off their energy a little more, we didn’t utilize it very well. It’s great to have them there.”
“For us, and women’s basketball it’s a great thing. We’ve been doing it ever since I’ve been the head coach and it’s been getting better and better” Canisius head coach Terry Zeh said about playing the Kids Day game. “I think it’s exciting for the kids that are coming and for the young boys and girls to see them on the floor. If there’s one kid that says, ‘I want to do that, I want to be a college basketball player,’ that’s great. The energy in the building is awesome. We try to get ready for it, but it’s hard. You can’t hear anything for a while because they’re so loud.”
Sophomore forward Sara Hinriksdottir led the Griffs in points for her eighth time this year (and career) finishing with 18 points. The 18-point game for Hinriksdottir is her 12th game finishing in double-figures this season. D’Hont added 10 points, five rebounds and four assists in the loss. Margret Halfdanardottir (15) and Saliah Serrette (12) also rounded out the Griffs’ scorers. Senior guard Tamara Miskovic also had a solid game finishing with four points, four rebounds and eight assists (one off of her career high set last year at Niagara).
Offensively, Canisius had great success shooting 49.1 percent from the field, but the defense couldn’t contain Marist sophomore guard Maura Fitzpatrick. The 5-foot-11 sophomore scored a career-high 28 points, while converting on a career-high for three-pointers (6). She also added another career-high on the defensive side, earning three steals. Fitzpatrick played 38 minutes for the Red Foxes. One of three players to log at least 37 minutes.
“Coming off the loss against Monmouth, I wanted to win like the rest of the team did,” Fitzpatrick said. “I just felt good in warmups, the first shot I took went in so I was feeling good.”
Three players played the majority of the game for Marist due to having only eight eligible players. Injuries and transfers, that need to sit out a year due to NCAA regulations, have been the key role for having the short bench for head coach Brian Giorgis’ squad. Seven of the eight eligible players saw the court, with the lowest minute total being 10 minutes. Five players scored double-digits for Marist, the third time that has happened this season.
“They never cease to amaze me,” Giorgis said. “We’re down in numbers, we’re young, but they get the most out of themselves. I feel bad at times when they’re exhausted and you see Terry and every other coach subbing in and out, in and out. If I get four substitutions in a half, that’s a lot. They persevered, stepped up in the second half and did a nice job.”
Once the Griffs owned a 10-point lead with 7:17 left in the 3rd quarter, Marist chipped away at the Griffs’ lead, eventually taking it for their own in the 4th quarter and did not look back. According to Coach Zeh, Canisius’ defense didn’t defend well, as they enabled the Red Foxes to shoot 48.1 percent from the field in the second half and 47.1 percent for the game.
Other than Fitzpatrick, who had the career-high day, Hannah Hand was another catalyst for Red Foxes’ success scoring 17 pts, while leading the team in rebounds (9) and assists (6). Hand registered 37 minutes, tying her career-high which was set twice (most recently at Monmouth on Monday).
“Her dad was a major-league pitcher and [Hannah] pitched a perfect game today. 5-for-5 (from the field), 1-for-1 (from beyond the 3-point line) and 1-for-1 (from the free throw line),” Giorgis stated. “She led us in rebounding and assists. You can’t ask for much more. She does it in her quite, assuming way. You don’t run a lot of sets for her, she just does it within the realm of what we do.”
Hannah’s twin sister, Rebekah, also had another strong performance scoring 13 points, while adding eight rebounds and four assists. Rebekah has been named MAAC Rookie of the Week five times, in consecutive weeks, this season. Kendall Baab, like Fitzpatrick, had a career-high for points, earning 13. Claire Oberdorf, a walk-on in October of 2015 and middle infielder for the Red Foxes’ softball team, contributed 10 points.
Canisius (3-11, 2-3) will host the Quinnipiac Bobcats (12-3, 5-0) on Saturday afternoon for a 2 p.m. tip at the Koessler Athletic Center. Quinnipiac is coming off an impressive 71-64 comeback win against the Niagara Purple Eagles (4-10, 1-4), also on Thursday morning. The Bobcats outscored the Purple Eagles in the final quarter, 29-14, earning their fifth consecutive MAAC victory.
Paula Strautmane led the Bobcats with 15 points, while Brittany Johnson and Adily Martucci added 13 and 10 respectively. Niagara earned solid performances from Kaylee Stroemple who scored a game-high 26 points, while Victoria Rampado had 12 points. Morgan Baughman chipped in with 11. Marist will play Niagara on Saturday at 3 p.m.