Women's Basketball Team Wins 9th MAAC Title
The women’s basketball team won its 10th straight MAAC regular-season championship, eighth straight MAAC Tournament championship, and ninth championship overall.
By Mike Ferraro ’01
Another season has come and gone, and the Marist College women’s basketball team won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) regular-season and tournament championships, advanced to the NCAA Tournament, and played well against a school from a power conference. Sounds like a typical season in Brian Giorgis’s tenure as head coach, right?
From a results standpoint, yes. But the journey the Red Foxes had to navigate toward another championship is what made the end result that much sweeter.
Within the first month of the 2012-13 season, the Red Foxes lost two key components to season-ending injuries in 6-foot-3 red-shirt sophomore Tori Jarosz and 6-foot-5 freshman Delaney Hollenbeck. As a result, Marist was forced to deploy more of a perimeter-based attack.
Marist finished the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 5-6 record, but the true indicators of the Red Foxes’ future success lay beneath the wins and losses. Four of their losses came against teams ranked in the top 12 in the country at the time of their match-up: Purdue, eventual national champion Connecticut, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.
The strong competition also gave the Red Foxes the opportunity to come together as a team, one that was constructed a little bit differently than past Marist championship teams. For the first time in six years, Marist did not have the MAAC Player of the Year, or a First Team All-MAAC selection.
What the Red Foxes did have was plenty of Giorgis’s coaching, and a selfless group of individuals who embraced the team concept. When conference play began in January, the Red Foxes were poised for another successful run in conference play. The results proved to be staggering.
Marist enjoyed its third perfect conference season in the last six years with an 18-0 record in regular-season play, plus three more victories in the conference tournament. The Red Foxes got stronger as the season went on and were simply dominant coming down the stretch. They set a program record by winning seven straight games by over 20 points—their final four of the regular season, and all three in the MAAC Tournament.
In the MAAC Tournament championship game on March 11, the Red Foxes defeated Iona by a score of 72-48. Senior Elizabeth Beynnon was honored as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“They carry a lot of traits that other Marist teams have had in the past,” Giorgis said following the game. “They just believe in themselves, and they don’t care what anyone else thinks.”
Marist drew a number 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament and traveled to College Park, MD, to face fifth-seeded Michigan State of the Big 10 Conference in the first round. In a game that was evenly matched throughout, the Spartans pulled away late to win 55-47.
Still, the loss allowed the Red Foxes to reflect on a season of remarkable accomplishments. Marist won 26 games, its 10th straight MAAC regular-season championship, its eighth straight MAAC Tournament championship, and its ninth championship overall. The eight straight conference championships is the longest active streak for any Division I basketball program in the country, men’s or women’s. The nine MAAC championships are now tied for the most of any program in conference history.
Individually, the Red Foxes earned several accolades as well. They had four selections to the Second and Third All-MAAC teams (Elizabeth Beynnon, Second Team; Casey Dulin, Second Team; Leanne Ockenden, Third Team; Emma O’Connor, Third Team), which set a school record. Ockenden was named MAAC Defensive Player of the Year. Kristina Danella was named Sixth Player of the Year. Sydney Coffey was named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team. And Giorgis was named MAAC Coach of the Year for the seventh time, extending his conference record.
Giorgis to Serve on Team USA Staff for World University Games
The day following his team’s MAAC Tournament triumph, it was announced that Brian Giorgis was selected to serve as an assistant coach on the USA women’s basketball team that will compete in the World University Games this summer. The games will be played from July 8 to 15 in Russia and will include teams from 16 countries.
Giorgis and Penn State Head Coach Coquese Washington will serve on the staff of Head Coach Sherri Coale, who is the head coach of the University of Oklahoma women’s basketball team. The staff was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.
The MAAC Tournament took place in Springfield, MA, home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. As part of the weekend’s festivities, the MAAC hosted a special ceremony in which two former players from each MAAC school were inducted to the MAAC Honor Roll. Honorees were profiled in the Tournament program and featured in a video display within the exhibit “The MAAC Experience” at the Hall of Fame. Marist recognized alumni Rachele Fitz ’10 and Fred Weiss ’66 as its honorees.Mike Ferraro '01 is sports information director at Marist College.