League-leader Marist too much for Griffs on Kid’s Day

The Marist Red Foxes opened the second half with a 15-2 run and never looked back Friday afternoon in the Koessler Athletic Center, defeating Canisius 59-40.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s fourth-leading scorer Erica Allenspach had 18 points for the Red Foxes and 6-foot-4 Kate Oliver had 12. Freshman Jamie Ruttle led Canisius with 10.

A rambunctious crowd of 2,196 was on hand for Kid’s Day at the KAC, where students from schools across the city got to cheer on the Griffs free of charge.

“It’s a fun atmosphere for our team,” head coach Terry Zeh said. “The kids are great. [Associate Athletics Director] John Maddock and his staff have done a really good job because it’s really grown over the years.

“We sort of started this a long time ago… and now the whole league is doing it. But we do it the best, by far.”

There was plenty to cheer for early on. The Griffs played Marist tight and briefly took the lead on the five-time defending MAAC champions.

After falling behind 16-8, the Griffs went on a 9-0 run to take the lead with 8:39 to play in the half. Two free throws from Ruttle put Canisus up by one, but it was the only lead the Griffs would have in the game.

The Red Foxes heavily outrebounded Canisius, 48-30, and pulled down 20 offensive boards.

Canisius struggled mightily from the floor, shooting just 28.3 percent from the field and 26.3 percent behind the arc. The Griffs made only 13 field goals and matched a season-low 40 points.

“The key to the game was certainly the glass,” Zeh said. “They controlled the rebounds. On a night they didn’t shoot well and we played good defense, they got all the offensive rebounds, and that hurt us.”

Marist entered the contest averaging the fewest turnovers per game in the country (11.3), and gave the ball away only 12 times on Friday. The Griffs scored 10 points off the Marist turnovers, while the Red Foxes scored 23 on Canisius’ 19 giveaways.

The visitors struggled from the floor in the first half (22.9 percent), but got it together in the second before coasting to victory. Marist improved on its MAAC-leading team free-throw percentage, hitting 14 of 15 from the line.

Up next for the Griffs (5-11, 1-4 MAAC) is a home game this Sunday at 2 p.m. against Siena, which is tied with Marist atop the league standings at 5-0. The Saints are fresh off a 40-point drubbing of Niagara Friday afternoon.