The last time the world saw Marist College, this happened: (Video courtesy of Mike Ferraro and Marist Athletics by way of the fine people of Iona Mass Comm, led by Mike Damergis)
Now three days removed from their dramatic 105-104 double overtime victory at Iona that will almost certainly be featured on this website when we review the best of the 2012-13 campaign, the 6-18 Red Foxes return home this afternoon, hosting reigning conference champion Loyola in a 2pm matinee at the McCann Center in Poughkeepsie.
"It's a shame more people couldn't watch this game," Marist head coach Chuck Martin proclaimed after Thursday night's thriller; which included a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Chavaughn Lewis from the Iona bench to send the game to a second overtime period, went final. "It's one of the best games I've ever been a part of. It was a fun game to coach, and it was a fun game to play."
Not only did the comeback victory lift Marist's spirits and confidence, it gives them hope to slay another MAAC giant. Having just regained the services of Jay Bowie Thursday night, a return that looms even larger considering second-leading scorer Devin Price has missed three of the Red Foxes' last six games while nursing an ankle injury. It is unknown whether or not Price will be available this afternoon, as Marist hosts a 17-8 Loyola team that comes in with a 9-4 record in MAAC play and a hot streak against the Red Foxes, having won nine of the Greyhounds' previous eleven meetings with Marist. Fortunately for Marist fans, the two wins in that stretch came on their home court, including a 72-54 victory one year ago in which four Marist players scored in double figures, led by Adam Kemp's stellar 17-points, 11-rebound, 8-block outing.
Sitting in sole possession of second place in the MAAC just one game behind Niagara, Jimmy Patsos' Greyhounds enter this afternoon's contest with a decided rebounding and defensive edge over Marist. Three players average twelve or more points per game, led by starting guards Dylon Cormier and Robert Olson; the latter of whom is Loyola's most dangerous three-point weapon, while former Northeastern transfer and conference Player of the Year candidate Erik Etherly anchors the paint for the Greyhounds with support from 6-7 swingman Anthony Winbush. After two losses to Iona and Canisius that appeared to have a significant effect on Loyola's MAAC Tournament seeding, the Greyhounds salvaged their trip to Buffalo with a double-overtime win of their own against Niagara before a 63-51 victory on their home court against Siena Friday night.
With first-place Niagara hosting Canisius in what is sure to be the highlight game of the day in the MAAC, Loyola stands to have much more to gain on paper, as the win that most experts and fans expect the Greyhounds to get could very well vault them into a tie for the conference lead if the Purple Eagles do not come away with a victory of their own. However, as Marist demonstrated Thursday night at Iona, anything can happen on any given day, and it will no doubt be interesting to see how this underrated showdown plays out in Dutchess County.