By Jason Maholy
Marist coach Tim Trendel looks forward to what his RedHawks can do if they can play at a high level for a full four quarters.
They’ve been very good for stretches of games, but inconsistency has midway through the regular season left them just 7-5 entering this week. Their hopeful they can build on their first game of 2020, in which they rode a hot start and a pivotal third-quarter surge to a 73-59 win over visiting Solorio.
Marist appeared poised to run Solorio out of the gym, building a 33-16 lead midway through the second quarter on the strength of a transition game that saw the RedHawks consistently scoring at the rim.
The Sun Warriors made a 7-0 push to close the first half and remained within striking distance, then hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the third quarter to make it 33-26 game. Marist responded, however, with the decisive run of the contest, scoring the following 15 points during a 23-6 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters and extended their lead to as many as 23 points.
Solorio put forth a spirited effort in the final period but never got closer than 12 points.
Marist senior guard/forward Josh Morris led all scorers with 19 points and junior guard Alex Knight had 18. Mike Mahoney finished with 11 points and Dan Reed had 10.
The RedHawks were clinical in their execution of the transition game in the first half, frequently turning steals, blocks and missed Solorio shots into fast-break buckets.
“That’s our strength,” Trendel said. “We’re struggling a bit from the arc these days and our strength is attacking the basket, seeing if our guys can do some things if they can get to the rim and finish. Using our quickness to push the ball ahead can be real strength, and that helped us open the lead today.”
Rendel will take satisfaction in grabbing such a commanding lead and ultimately coasting to victory, but he is concerned about the team’s inability thus far to put together four solid quarters in any single game. The lapses have contributed to losses, and some stressful moments even in victory.
“We’re having a problem finishing games these days,” Trendel said. “Here, we did some things better – shared the ball, we’ve been struggling getting assists and finding open guys. So it was good to see us getting everybody involved, and I thought we ran our fast break pretty well, too.
“But we’re very inconsistent. If we could put a full four quarters together we’d be in business. Once we can do that I think we’ll be a dangerous team.”
The RedHawks played without 6-4 junior forward Jabari Hill, and in a search for some much-needed depth brought up freshman guard Xavier Sulaimann and sophomore forward Sebastian Drag. Sulaimann scored five points and Drag had three , with each player hitting one of the RedHawks’ three shots from long range.
Trendel is optimistic the two can help stabilize the bench.
“They got their feet we t today and both scored,” Trendel said. “So that’s good because depth has been an issue.”
Help from the bench may be even more urgent, with Hill out indefinitely and the possibility of senior forward Brendan Barry missing time after taking a spill that required stitches in the Solorio game.
“Jabari’s the catalyst – we go as he goes because of his energy, enthusiasm and tempo – and now Brendan with the stitches,” he added. “We were looking for some depth and [Sulaimann and Drag] stepped up, which was really nice. This was the chance to give them an opportunity and they seized it.”