Marist upsets Quinnipiac, St. Peter’s blows out Fairfield in MAAC Tournament


By Nick Veronica

Eleventh-seeded Marist pulled an 80-74 upset on No. 6 Quinnipiac Thursday night in the MAAC Tournament’s play-in round, ending the season for the nation’s top rebounding team.

Chavaughn Lewis led Marist with 26 points and became the school’s career scoring leader during the game. He now has 2,071 career points.

Quinnipiac senior Ousmane Drame went out like a warrior with 27 points and 23 rebounds in 37 minutes of action. Zaid Hearst scored 16 points in his final collegiate game but was just 4 of 18 shooting.

Khallid Hart added 18 points for Marist, which shot 52 percent from the field and a blistering 68.4 percent from three-point range (13-19).

Marist will face Manhattan Saturday in the quarterfinals.

Fairfield limps out of tournament

Fairfield managed only seven points in the first half of a conference tournament game and will have all summer to think about it.

Seventh-seeded Saint Peter’s coasted to a 63-33 win over 10th-ranked Fairfield Thursday at the Times Union Center in Albany.

Quadir Welton and Trevis Wyche both came off the bench to lead Saint Peter’s in scoring with 13 and 12 points, respectively, as 10 different Peacocks scored and 14 saw action.

Marcus Gilbert led Fairfield with 12 points.

Saint Peter’s will play second-seeded Rider at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Niagara was eliminated from the tournament earlier Thursday, losing to Siena, 71-54.


Postgame video: Marist 75, Canisius 67

By Nick Veronica

Interviews following Canisius’ 75-67 loss against Marist, which has won only four games all season but three in a row…

Canisius coach Jim Baron

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Jim Baron famously opened.

“Our youthness caught up [to us],” he said, alluding to new roles young players had to take on following Phil Valenti’s injury (update here).

“With Phil being out, now we have to put Crump in, who’s a freshman, and Cassidy [Ryan] in, who’s a freshman. It’s a league that’s very challenging when you have so many young guys who have to perform. But that’s all part of it. That’s no excuse. Guys have to step up.”

Baron called Marist’s Chavaugn Lewis “one of the best wingmen in the league.”

“He just took it to us,” Baron said. “We had nobody to guard him.”

Canisius players Jermaine Crumpton, Zach Lewis

“I think he was on fire,” Zach Lewis said of Chavaughn Lewis, who dropped a career-high 35 points.

(Which is a great lead-in to an NBA Jam discussion we had on Twitter during the game. That’s current Canisius assistant Mike Iuzzolino on the screen.)

(Lozar was not the one who made Iuzzolino 0-for-10.)

Marist coach Mike Maker and Chavaughn Lewis


Immediate reactions: Marist 75, Canisius 67

Marist 41 34 — 75
Canisius 35 32 — 67

By Nick Veronica

How it happened: Canisius’ defense was a step and a half too slow Sunday afternoon, presenting opportunities even the MAAC’s worst offensive team could exploit. Marist picked up its third-straight win in the 75-67 decision, led by a career-high 35 points from Chavaughn Lewis, the MAAC’s fourth-leading scorer (and he did it on 14-of-16 shooting!).

Marist entered the Koessler Athletic Center last in the conference in scoring average (59.3 ppg, 331st nationally), last in field goal percentage (.387, 333rd nationally) and second-last in three-point percentage (.313). But Canisius, playing its first full game without forward Phil Valenti, looked a bit confused on defense and allowed Marist to shoot 54.3 percent en route to its second-highest offensive output of the season.

Zach Lewis led Canisius with 19 points on 19 shots while Jermaine Crumpton had a career-high 18 points. Canisius killed Marist in rebounds, 53-29, including 28 on the offensive end.

[Postgame interviews: Baron, Crumpton, Lewis, Maker]

What it means: Marist isn’t the worst team in the conference — it won the cellar-dweller battle with Niagara on Friday — but it is certainly near the bottom, which should have presented a good opportunity for Canisius to iron out its new wrinkles sans Valenti. But Jim Baron and the Griffs will need to get back to the ironing board — er, drawing board — after the ugly loss that dropped them to 12-9 and 7-5 in the MAAC. The win was only Marist’s fourth of the season (4-18, 3-10), but the Red Foxes have now won three in a row, beating Fairfield, Niagara and Canisius.

It was over when: A three-pointer from Crumpton cut the deficit to 67-62 with 1:23 to go and Canisius’ press forced Marist into a travel. Josiah Heath got the play he wanted on the ensuing possession and backed down his man nicely but couldn’t hit a layup with 1:10 left. Marist recovered the ball and iced the game with free throws shortly after.

New lineup, roles: With Valenti out, Crumpton got his first career start and several players saw a spike in their minutes. Crumpton’s final line was 6-10 from the field, 1-3 on three-pointers, 5-9 at the line, four rebounds, two assists and no fouls in 28 minutes. Heath grabbed 17 rebounds — one shy of his career-best, though many came off his own misses — and Cassidy Ryan got in the game sooner than usual. The Griffs switched men on Chavaughn Lewis and flipped from man to zone but couldn’t find an answer for the senior swingman. The Griffs may have been able to cover Valenti’s absence in the rebounding department Sunday, but they need more work defining their new defensive roles.

Valenti update: Valenti had his right leg in a boot during Sunday’s game and was on crutches. He is scheduled for an MRI on Monday and is feared to be lost for the season. Team sources confirmed that Valenti suffered a dislocated ankle, which trainers were able to pop back in place on the court before wheeling the redshirt sophomore out of the gym. His X-rays Friday showed no broken bones.

Stat check: Outside of Crumpton, Canisius starters Lewis, Heath, Jan Grzelinksi and Jamal Reynolds combined to go 12-for-46 from the field (26%).

Vegas line: Vegas Insider had Canisius -10.5 just before tip after opening at Canisius -14. Over/under was 123.5. Marist covered; total was 142.

Next: Canisius travels to Manhattan on Friday for a 7 p.m. game. Manhattan is the only team picked in the top five of the MAAC Preseason Poll that Canisius has not beaten this season.

Marist names Mike Maker basketball coach, replacing Jeff Bower

By Nick Veronica

Mike Maker

Mike Maker

Mike Maker was named the new basketball coach at Marist today, filling the void created when Jeff Bower left earlier this month to become the general manager of the Detroit Pistons.

Maker comes from Division III Williams College, where he put up an impressive 147-32 record in six years as head coach while reaching two national championship games.

Maker has 26 years of head coaching experience, including 17 as a Division I assistant. He worked under former Canisius coach John Beilein at West Virginia from 2005-07. This is Maker’s first Division I head coaching job.

Marist’s Executive Vice President, Dr. Geoffrey Brackett, said in the school’s press release that Maker was “unanimously endorsed” by the search committee.

“We will implement a team first approach and unique style of play that highlights character, intelligence and skill, a direct reflection of our student body as a whole,” Maker said in the release. He will be introduced in an 11 a.m press conference at Marist’s McCann Arena on Wednesday.

Maker is the 11th head coach in Marist history and the third in the last three seasons. Bower spent only one season at Marist after replacing Chuck Martin, who was 48-118 in five seasons.

Marist’s best player, Chavaughn Lewis (17.3 ppg, second-team all-conference), must decide if he’ll play for his third coach or transfer. The Red Foxes are looking to build on their performance from last season, when they earned the 6-seed in the conference tournament and boasted the MAAC Rookie of the Year, Khallid Hart (14.7 ppg).

Marist basketball coach resigns, likely headed back to pros

By Nick Veronica

Former Marist coach Jeff Bower.

Former Marist coach Jeff Bower.

Marist men’s basketball coach Jeff Bower resigned after one season on the job, the school announced Monday.

Bower, a former NBA head coach and general manager, is reportedly leaving to become the general manger of the Detroit Pistons.

Marist went 12-19 overall and 9-11 in the MAAC last season, finishing sixth in the conference before being upset by 11th-seeded Niagara in the play-in round of the conference tournament.

Marist returns swingman Chavaughn Lewis (17.3 ppg), who was second-team all-conference, and Khallid Hart (14.7 ppg), who was the MAAC Rookie of the Year. Center Adam Kemp is the only loss to graduation.

Bower, for what it’s worth, is a fan of Billy Baron’s game. That could be worth keeping an eye on as Baron hopes to land on an NBA roster. He has already worked out for three NBA teams in advance of this month’s draft.

Pistons coach and president Stan Van Gundy is a former Canisius assistant.

Related: Baron has third pre-draft workout