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Marshall coach Dorothy Gaters put Saturday’s 67-33 loss at No. 6 Marist in perspective.
“We’re 6-7,” she said. “That’s better than the Lakers.”
Je’Taun Rouse scored 18 points and Leah Bolton added 12 points with three steals as the RedHawks ran all over the visiting Commandos in both teams’ final tune-up before their respective holiday tournaments.
“It was good practice for Florida,” said Rouse, who will join her teammates Christmas day on a flight to Florida for the Naples Daily News Holiday Shootout featuring some of the top teams from around the country, including defending tournament champion Young.
“We started off a little slow at first,” the Marquette recruit added. “Our defense was there, but then the second half we turned up our offense. We turned them over a couple times and got out on the break. I was in condition for that. It was like Fenwick (the RedHawks’ 99-97 overtime loss).”
Marist (10-1) surrendered the first basket of the game before a Bolton putback ignited a 16-4 run to close out the first quarter. The lead swelled to 31-10 on two Claire Finn free throws with 2:28 remaining in the half as Marist coach Mary Pat Connolly went to her bench early and often.
“It was one of those games where we wanted to start focusing right from the beginning, so if there’s an opportunity we can play the kids who don’t get as much playing time as our starters,” she said. “So it worked out well for us.”
The lead, which reached 50-21 on a basket by Hannah Michalek with 3:45 remaining in the third quarter, also allowed Connolly to juggle lineup combinations.
“We tried different things,” she said. “We went to a bigger lineup sometimes, and other times we went to a small, quick lineup. Whatever the other team dictates and how we can take advantage of their personnel, that’s what we do with ours a lot of times.”
Among the players who most impressed Connolly was Lizzie Zaleski, who was a disruptive force in the middle and keyed several easy breakouts for the hosts.
“She’s only a sophomore,” Connolly said. “She really has a nose for the ball. She really attacks the boards for us, which is great because it’s contagious, too. When you have a girl whose heart is rebounding, it just makes everybody else want to go to boards harder.”
Marshall junior Tyisha Saunders, at 5-foot-9 the tallest player to see the floor for the Commandos, did have six rebounds to go with her 11 points, but it wasn’t enough to offset Marist’s huge height advantage.
“You can box out,” Gaters said. “You might get an over-the-back call.
Everybody we play is taller than us. They should know by now. But their guards are really, really good, and at the end of the day your guards have to carry the burden for you.”
Lyric Bryant added 11 points and 5-6 freshman Ronesha Bryant had five points for Marshall.
“We just have to keep working hard,” Gaters said. “These kids are all new. We have a couple kids left over from last year, but as a team this is it for them. This is their first year playing as a team. We’ll keep working. We will get better…incrementally.”