CHARLESTON, S.C. – Despite stretching things out to a 20-point lead with 18:35 to go in the second half, The Citadel basketball team fell 100-91 to Marist in the opening game of the Papa John's Bulldog Bash inside McAlister Field House as the Red Foxes came out and shot 61.9% (13-of-21) from three-point range in the second stanza.
"All the points were scored on the one end of the court, and unfortunately we weren't on that end there at the end of the game," said head coach Duggar Baucom. "I thought the first half we played about as well as we've played all year, and then the second half was about as bad as we've played all year. We didn't score a basket in the last 5:52 and you're not going to win like that, it doesn't matter how big of a lead you have. I was disappointed with some of our decision-making later on in the game, but we have to refocus on tomorrow."
The two teams started the game off evenly enough as they traded three-pointers early before the Bulldogs (3-4) began to pull away. Junior Zane Najdawi gave the Bulldogs their first double-digit lead with 10:15 to go in the first when he converted an old-fashioned three-point play when he was fouled on a layup.
Marist (1-6) was able to pull back to within six, 34-28 with 6:03 to go in the opening stanza and seven, 36-29 with 4:41 to go, but the Bulldogs turned up the pressure in the closing moments of the half to take a 57-39 lead into the locker room at half time.
Both teams shot around 50.0% for the first half with Marist shooting 15-of-30 and The Citadel shooting 22-of-46 (.478), but it was partially the Bulldogs' 10-of-22 (.455) effort from long range that gave them the advantage early. Marist connected on just 26.3% (5-of-19) of their three-point attempts in the opening half.
The other major factor that went in favor of the Bulldogs in the first half was 15 first-half turnovers by the Foxes that the Bulldogs turned into 20 points.
Out of the intermission, it was all Marist as the Red Foxes went on a 22-5 run through the first six minutes of the second half to close the gap to just three, 62-59. During that run, the Bulldogs converted just two of their eight field goal attempts (.250) and committed four turnovers, the same number of turnovers they had in the entire first half of play.
With 7:40 to go in regulation, David Knudsen hit a three-pointer off a feed from Aleksandar Dozic to tie the game at 86-all, and from that point forward, Marist controlled the pace of play and scoring. In fact, the Bulldogs failed to convert a field goal for the final 5:52 with their only points coming off a pair of Quayson Williams free throws with 4:32 to go.
For the game, The Citadel shot 40.5% (32-of-79) from the field and 35.7% (15-of-42) from three-point range. The Bulldogs scored 32 points in the paint, 29 off Marist's 25 turnovers and received 47 points from their bench.
On the other end of the court, Marist ended the game shooting 55.6% (35-of-63), including 60.6% (20-of-33) in the second half alone. The Red Foxes shot 45.0% (18-of-40) from three-point range and had 34 points in the paint and 12 points off second-chance shots.
Williams led five Bulldogs in double figures with a season-high 22 points, four off his career-high. He hit on six three-pointers, also a season-high, and had a team-high five assists in the game. His six three-pointers gives him 128 three-pointers for his career and has him tied for 13th in program history for three-pointers made in a career.
Fellow junior Matt Frierson also hit on six three-pointers, tying his season-high set in the season-opener against Oglethorpe. Frierson's six treys gives him 133 for his career and has him tied for 10th in program history for three-pointers made. Frierson ended the night with 18 points off 6-of-14 (.429) shooting in 26 minutes of work.
Freshman Tariq Simmons scored 13 points with Najdawi chipping in 12 and Frankie Johnson adding 11. Rob Johnson was the team's leading rebounder with seven boards.
Marist had four players finish in double figures led by Ryan Funk's 22 points and Dozic's 19. Brian Parker added 16 with Isaiah Lamb chipping in 15 off the bench. Dozic recorded a double-double as he brought down 11 boards.
FAST BREAK FACTS
- Matt Frierson connected on six three-pointers Friday, moving the junior guard into a tie for 10th all-time for three-pointers made in a career. The school record is 295 set by Zach Urbanus (2007-11). Frierson is tied with Kevin Hammack (2002-07).
- Quayson Williams connected on six three-pointers in the game with Marist and moved into a tie for 13th all-time for three-pointers made in a career. He is tied with Terry Campbell (1990-94).
- The Bulldogs connected on 15 three-pointers Friday against Marist, the second-most this season. The 15 treys by the team is tied for 16th-most in a single game by the Bulldogs in program history. The squad converted 21 in the season-opener against Oglethorpe, tying the program record.
The Citadel will play UMBC at 3 p.m. as the Retrievers fell 81-70 to Army in the second game of the tournament. Army and Marist will face off for the second time this season in the title game. Tipoff for that game will be at either 5 p.m. or 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game.
For more information on The Citadel basketball team, follow @CitadelHoops and @CitadelSports or visit CitadelSports.com.