Marist Wins Title, NCAA Tourney Berth
Mar. 05, 2006
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Meg Dahlman scored 15 points in Marist's 68-57 win over Loyola, Md., on Sunday, giving the Red Foxes an NCAA tournament berth and their second title in three years in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women's tournament.
Nikki Flores scored 14 points, Alisa Kresge had six assists and Dahlman added 11 rebounds for Marist (23-6), which set a school record for victories.
Marist was forced to quell a second-half surge in which Loyola erased a 26-point deficit, cutting the lead to 61-57 when Jackie Valderas hit a 16-footer with 1:55 remaining. The Greyhounds never came any closer, missing four shots and committing three turnovers on their final five possessions.
Brittany Dunn scored a career-high 21 before fouling out for Loyola (20-9), snapping the Greyhounds' six-game win streak, a stretch that included a 62-59 regular-season win against Marist last month.
The Greyhounds, who upset defending champion Canisius 76-66 on Saturday, were making their first tournament final appearance since 1998. Loyola dropped to 2-3 in MAAC championship games, its two titles coming in 1994 and '95.
The Red Foxes shook off a tightly played 60-59 win over Iona on Saturday, taking control in the opening minutes against Loyola. After Dunn's 3-point basket provided Loyola its only lead, Marist responded with a 15-0 run over five minutes to open a 17-5 edge when Flores hit a 3-point shot with 13:26 left in the first half.
The Greyhounds had trouble penetrating the Red Foxes' defense, were outrebounded 48-37 and had difficulty making shots.
The Greyhounds finished the half down 41-25 after going 8-of-30 from the field. Marist's struggles in the second came after forward Fifi Camara, the MAAC player of the year, picked up her fourth foul in the first five minutes.
Marist was making its third straight championship game appearance after losing to Canisius 60-59 in the final last year.
In four seasons, Marist coach Brian Giorgis has revived a struggling program. The Red Foxes are 65-24 in their last three seasons compared with 59-135 in their previous seven. That includes Giorgis' first season when they went 13-16, but won their first conference tournament game since joining the MAAC in 1998.