For the first time in a long time, Marist looked like a functioning, healthy basketball team. However, the rejuvenated Red Foxes didn’t have enough to get past Quinnipiac. The Bobcats left Poughkeepsie with a 72-71 come from behind victory after a thrilling last-second sequence.
Marist held the lead all game until Zaid Hearst put the Bobcats ahead 62-61 with a layup with just 5:06 left in the game. The Red Foxes tied the game up two more times down the stretch before Hearst used a step-back jumper to once again put the visitors up 72-70 with just 17 seconds on the clock.
After calling timeout nine seconds later, Marist’s Khallid Hart bounced a layup attempt high off the glass. Eric Truog corralled two offensive rebounds with time winding down before Quinnipiac’s Evan Conti was whistled for a foul just a fraction of a second before the buzzer.
Truog, a 46% free throw shooter this season, had to endure a long wait while the referees reviewed the final possession. Once it was confirmed the foul came before the buzzer, the 6’10” center toed the line and bounced his first attempt off the front of the rim.
Needing to miss the second attempt to have a chance at a tie, Truog provided a perfect example of the twisted ways the basketball gods work by banking the intended miss off the glass and through the hoop.
Quinnipiac once again struggled from 3-point range. Ayron Hutton picked up two early fouls and took a seat on the bench for most of the first half while Kasim Chandler took over the point guard duties. With Hutton on the bench, the Bobcats failed to convert on seven attempts from behind the arc.
Hutton made two 3-pointers in the second half to account for all six of his points for the afternoon, but Quinnipiac finished a paltry 3-18 from downtown, with the only other basket coming from Hearst.
Hearst once again paced the Bobcats with 27 points. Ousmane Drame completed his 12th double-double of the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman forward Samuel Dingba had his first game of note, corralling 10 rebounds.
James Ford Jr. started his fourth straight game, but played just four minutes before going down with an injury to his left leg. He was carried into the locker room after both halves.
The story for Marist continues to be their renewed health. The Red Foxes played just their second game since the season opener with their full starting lineup. Khallid Hart missed 13 games after injuring his left foot against Army, while T.J. Curry returned in the team’s last game against Fairfield after missing 15 games since the season opener.
“In a lot of ways I thought this was our first home game,” head coach Mike Maker said. “It’s the first time we’ve had a full roster all year long at home in front of our fans. We’re going to get better. This is like November for us. We’re a couple of months behind, but it’s going to be a tough locker room.”
Lewis paced the Red Foxes with 20 points while Hart followed close behind with 19 of his own. It was Hart’s best offensive game since pouring in 33 in the season opener at Bucknell. Curry knocked down three of four shots from behind the arc for nine points.
Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac, the MAAC, and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.